Upgrading cards to be completed by June next
Smart cards issued under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) for providing health cover to workers in the unorganised sector now have double the memory space — 64 kb against 32 kb now — making them usable for a broad range or social welfare schemes, said Anil Swarup, Director-General, Labour Welfare, Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Speaking at a workshop on RSBY implementation in Karnataka here on Monday, he said the process of upgrading existing cards and issuing new cards with double the capacity was expected to be completed throughout the country by the end of next June.
Mr. Swarup said that cards with increased memory could be used for life insurance, health, and, as in the case of Chhattisgarh, also for Public Distribution System (PDS).
“The chip will also have the space to be used as a health card, which can contain the entire health history of a beneficiary,” said Mr. Swarup. “It can be used for Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) scheme as well.”
State Labour Commissioner S.R. Umashankar said that the State would start upgrading the cards by August-September. Labour Minister B.N. Bache Gowda said that the State had so far identified 17.54 lakh beneficiaries under RSBY and the target was to enrol 30 lakh within a year. He urged more private hospitals to come forward and get empanelled for implementing the scheme. As of now, 344 empanelled hospitals of the total of 775 are government hospitals.
Labour Secretary G.S. Narayanaswamy said that some districts which are lagging behind in identifying beneficiaries — Bangalore Urban, Mysore, Gulbarga and Belgaum — had pulled down the overall performance of the State. These four districts have a coverage of less than 30 per cent, with coverage in Gulbarga at 22 per cent.
The Centre-sponsored RSBY, started in 2008, provides Rs. 30,000 annual cashless health insurance to families of poor workers in the unorganised sector.
Though Karnataka has over 17 lakh enrolled under the RSBY, those who have taken treatment in the empanelled hospitals remains an abysmally low 13,261 so far. Mr. Bache Gowda said that this had led to a situation where insurance companies, rather than the so-called beneficiaries, were really gaining from the scheme.