Ration cardholders in the above the poverty line (APL) category will now be eligible for an almost-free quality healthcare with the government issuing an order to implement the Rajiv Arogyashri Scheme.

The new features of the health scheme for which the Government Order was issued on November 23, stated to be the first of its kind in the country, will make it possible for all ration cardholders (irrespective of their economic status) to get subsidised treatment up to Rs. 1.5 lakh annually in super-speciality hospitals listed by the government. The BPL cardholders are covered under the Vajpayee Arogyashri, while the APL card holders will be under the Rajiv Arogyashri.

Surgical procedures

The scheme is applicable for 447 surgical procedures, including cardiac, cancer, renal, burns, neonatal and neurological problems. What makes it unprecedented is that so far only BPL families were eligible for government healthcare benefits. Now, anyone with an APL ration card can also avail the subsidy and the patient needs to pay only 10 per cent of the cost, with the balance borne by the government.

Principal Secretary to the Government (Department of Health and Family Welfare) M. Madan Gopal told The Hindu that this scheme, aimed at universalisation of tertiary healthcare, would benefit nearly 1.2 crore people .

“It is a health assurance scheme that will provide healthcare facilities that are not available in government hospitals,” he said. The Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST), which is implementing the Vajpayee Arogyashri scheme, is working out the modalities for implementing the new scheme.

P. Bore Gowda, Executive Director of SAST, explained that the process of appointing the implementing support agency would start shortly. “As of now, we have empanelled 76 super-speciality hospitals for the Vajpayee Arogyashri scheme. A consultative meeting with all these hospitals will be held shortly that will lead to a memorandum of understanding (MoU). We expect some 12,500 beneficiaries annually for this scheme, and the government may have to spend approximately Rs. 60,000 per beneficiary.”

Arogya Mitras

He explained that once the hospitals are empanelled, Arogya Mitra helpdesks will be set up in each hospital.

“The Aroya Mitras will link the APL patients with the hospitals after verifying the ration cards. Once this is done, the hospital will start investigations and diagnose the ailment and specify the surgical procedure required. These details will be uploaded on the computer by the hospital’s Rajiv Arogyashri Medical Coordinator (RAMCO) for pre-authorisation of the treatment cost. Treatment starts as soon as the approval is accorded,” the doctor explained.


“We will bear the cost of basic facilities for hospitalisation, medicine, investigation and treatment. If the patient wants to opt for private or semi-private wards or high-end implants, he/she has to pay the additional costs,” Dr. Bore Gowda said.