To get a pre-launch peek at the smart card for PDS, look no further than the national health insurance card issued to BPL families in Haryana and Rajasthan. Though the subsidised scheme will become operational on April 1, some 1,000 cards have already been distributed, offering treatment up to Rs 30,000 annually in approved private and government hospitals. "Unlike plastic cards, the smart cards have many safety features and are tamper-proof. Being biometric, the smart card can't be misused even if lost or stolen. It has been designed to maintain the entire medical history of the family," says Sanjay Pande, head of Financial Inclusion Solutions at ICICI Lombard, which has bagged the bid for providing health cover in the two states.
These smart cards—issued by the labour ministry—are equipped with 11 types of software that help perform multiple functions. It has a java card with up to 64 kb memory that will not only help to establish the identity of the person seeking to avail of healthcare services but also monitor and record every transaction, explains Rishi Gupta, CFO of FINO, a multi-bank-promoted company that is partnering ICICI Lombard.
So far, around nine states including Delhi have invited bids from health insurance companies to provide coverage under which they will tie up with private hospitals to operationalise the smart cards and provide scores of services at predetermined rates, lower than what they normally charge. Says labour secretary Sudha Pillai: "It will help us keep track of the services availed and also help migratory families carry credit to wherever the job opportunities take them."
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