The National Human Rights Commission has sought a report from the Health Ministry over a complaint about poor patients suffering from life-threatening diseases not able to avail treatment under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) if they are Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries. According to NHRC, it has received a complaint stating patients holding BPL cards are not getting RAN benefits if they availed benefits of AB-PMJAY even if they are suffering from life-threatening diseases whose expenditure is much more than Rs 5 lakh, the maximum permissible limit under Ayushman Bharat health scheme.
The Commission has asked the ministry to take appropriate action and sent an action-taken report to it within six weeks. "The complainant has further stated that due to such discrepancies people belonging to the most marginalised section of society are forced to sell their houses, land and to take loan on higher interest rates to cover the cost of treatment.
"He has requested the Commission to ask the government to take immediate necessary action so that poor patients get the benefit of the RAN scheme and Ayushman Bharat health scheme in case of life-threatening diseases, when the expenditure exceeds Rs 5 lakh permitted under the PMJAY scheme," the commission said in its letter to the Health Ministry secretary.
Earlier, the Health Ministry had rejected a proposal for allowing Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries avail high-cost treatment for life-threatening diseases under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi, and suggested the health insurance scheme could be modified and the Rs 5-lakh ceiling enhanced to accommodate such patients. AIIMS and National Health Authority (NHA) had cited cases wherein Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries could not avail treatment for blood cancer and chronic liver diseases as these are not covered under the flagship health insurance scheme. They had written to the Health Ministry, asking if the patients deprived treatment under AB-PMJAY could be covered under the RAN umbrella.
They drew the ministry's attention to the patients who were refused treatment under PMJAY as they suffered from ailments such as blood cancer and chronic liver disease, which do not figure among the 1,350 medical packages mentioned under the scheme. These patients were also not able to avail treatment under the RAN umbrella since they are AB-PMJAY card holders.
The health ministry said the suggestions of NHA and AIIMS cannot be agreed to as the eligibility criteria for both the schemes are different.