The Union Health Ministry has announced that it will give benefits under the Ayushman Bharat —National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) to people who even do not possess Aadhaar card.
“The Aadhar card is preferable, it is not a must. We will provide services to all eligible beneficiaries with or without Aadhaar card,” said Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda.
The notification of the Ayushman Bharat is being issued under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act merely enabled the implementation agencies to ask for authentication of identity. There shall be no denial of benefits for the want of Aadhaar number, the health ministry release further added.
Earlier, there were reports of mandatory requirement of Aadhaar to avail benefits under the Ayushman Bharat. The government termed those reports as factually incorrect.
The Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission is a scheme designed to provide health insurance cover of up to Rs 5 lakhs. According to an estimate, the scheme is expected to benefit around 10 crore people.
Aadhaar can be mandatory
As per Aadhaar Act documents, proof of Aadhaar number is necessary for receipt of certain subsidy and benefits. Since the scheme involves expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India, it falls under the purview of the Aadhaar Act.
Besides, it also outlines beneficiaries without Aadhaar/ an Aadhaar enrolment slip, however, will only be allowed to receive treatment under this scheme once. Thereafter, for the next treatment, Aadhaar or the enrolment slip will be mandatory.
The Supreme Court, which has been hearing the case since January and yet to come up with the final verdict, had also drawn an exception for the Section 7 notifications mandating Aadhaar. In absence of the final ruling by the apex court, the government has an option to make Aadhaar mandatory for this scheme, and issue the deadline for enrolments.
The govt has extended June deadline to submit Aadhaar for availing subsidised foodgrains from ration shops or cash transfer of food subsidy till September this year.
Security concern over Aadhaar
Time and again, Aadhaar data has been leaked by various states and govt departments. Among many leak reports, the one that stood out is The Tribune breach report in January that exposed access to Aadhaar data at Rs 500. In another instance, a sting operation by India Today revealed Aadhaar applicants data being sold at Rs 2-5 per record.
The leakage of data is a huge concern, which government has been unable to ensure.
So far, according to Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), about 121 crore Aadhaar cards have been issued.
In June, the usage of Aadhaar dropped to the lowest level in a year, declining over 40 per cent from a record 1.48 billion authentications done using the unique identity number last September.