But many poor families are unaware of the announcement

The State government has made production of smart cards (identity cards) mandatory for availing cashless medical benefits under Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme from Sunday (December 15). Yet, many families with an annual income of less than Rs.72,000 in the district are unaware of the announcement.

Many who had come to a free medical camp conducted under the scheme on Government Girls Higher Secondary School premises in Melur on Saturday were ignorant of the need to possess smart cards. They had not even brought their ration cards to help the Village Administrative Officers who were present there to issue income certificates.

K. Rani of Melavasal had brought her son K. Gunasekaran (10) with hearing problem. But she neither had a smart card nor a ration card. Similar was the case with A. Periyakaruppan (60) of Chinna Soorakundu who had come to the camp with a complaint of poor eyesight.

District Project Officer R. Suresh Kumar said, “If people don’t have ration cards, we accept pension certificate or physically challenged identity cards or other such documents. The aim is to ensure that no family earning less than Rs.72,000 a year is left out of the scheme.” So far 5,16,402 smart cards had been issued in the district.

Two facilities

Two kiosks – one near Indian Red Cross Society office inside the Collectorate and another at ward number 500 at the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) – had been established to take photographs and issue smart cards on the spot to those who bring their ration cards or other acceptable documents along with income certificates.

In the last two years, the Collectorate kiosk issued 6,699 smart cards, and the one at the GRH 152 cards. The smart card holders were eligible to undergo 1,016 types of surgeries and treatments such as chemotherapy and dialysis apart from 23 diagnostic procedures, including Computed Tomogoraphy (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanning.

The medical facilities could be availed from 37 authorised private hospitals and four government hospitals in the district. Since January 2011, 23,421 permanent residents of Madurai district underwent surgeries and medical management procedures costing Rs.45.71 crore at various hospitals in the State.

During the same period, the authorised hospitals in the district performed surgeries and medical management procedures on 47,111 patients (including those from other districts) at a cost of Rs.88.21 crore. A total of 2,557 patients underwent diagnostic procedures at a cost of Rs.43.82 lakh. “We conduct regular inspections to find out if the affluent and ineligible beneficiaries had enrolled in the scheme,” Mr.Kumar added.

Melur Block Medical Officer (in-charge) S. Shanthini said 180 outpatients visited the medical camp on Saturday and 48 of them were referred for various procedures, including surgeries. Thirteen patients were asked to undergo diagnostic procedures such as scanning. The camp began at 8.30 a.m. and came to a close by 1.30 p.m. owing to lukewarm response.