NEW DELHI: The government clarified on Thursday that Aadhaar card was not mandatory for taking benefits under Ayushman Bharat - National Health Protection Mission. Nobody would be denied health facilities for not having an Aadhaar number.
The National Health Protection Scheme is meant to provide Rs 5 lakh health insurance coverage to about 40 crore Indians.
"Notification of the Ayushman Bharat - National Health Protection Mission being issued by MoHFW under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, merely enables the implementation agencies to ask for the beneficiary Aadhaar Card to authenticate their identity," the statement said.
"In order to authenticate the identity of beneficiaries accurately, the use of Aadhaar card is preferable, but it is not a must. There shall be no denial of benefit for want of Aadhaar number." J P Nadda, health minister, too confirmed that "we will provide services to all eligible beneficiaries with or without Aadhaar cards."
The government also clarified that draft notification also provides for exception handling mechanism, viz production of alternate identification mechanisms such as ration card, voter id card, MGNREGA card or other relevant documents in case the beneficiary does not have an Aadhar card Also it also makes the implementation agencies accountable for setting up of Aadhaar enrollment centers for the beneficiaries who are not yet enrolled for Aadhaar, at convenient locations, the ministry said.
At present, most other social welfare schemes of the Central government-including LPG subsidy, food subsidy, cash transfers, Aam Admi Bima Yojana, direct cash benefits, pension schemes, fellowships and maternity benefits are, however, given on the basis of Aadhar card.
The contentious issue on whether Aadhar can be mandatory for all government schemes and benefits has come at a time when the Supreme Court has reserved its order on the issue and a final order in this regard is likely soon.
The draft notification for the scheme is in the making as the process of empanelment of hospitals has also begun.
There are however concerns that due to low package rates, not many corporate hospitals are interested in getting empanelled and the government might have to make do with smaller hospitals, which leads to "quality" issues.
(with IANS inputs)