HealthPune Local

Digitalization aids PMC in overcoming malpractices in the health scheme.

In a bid to eliminate malpractices and ensure transparency, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has successfully leveraged digitalization to transform its Urban Poor Health Scheme (UPHS). By harnessing computerized technologies, PMC officials have effectively identified residents who were taking advantage of the health scheme meant for economically weaker sections while simultaneously paying significant property taxes. This groundbreaking initiative has brought about a revolutionary change, safeguarding the scheme's integrity and enhancing its reach.

A Transformative Approach to Healthcare
The UPHS was launched by the PMC a decade ago with the noble objective of providing free or discounted medical treatment to economically weaker sections at affiliated hospitals. Initially limited to citizens with a yearly income of up to ₹1 lakh, the scheme was expanded to ₹2 lakh in 2019, ensuring a broader coverage. Under the UPHS, the PMC shoulders the treatment cost up to ₹1 lakh, with the civic body taking responsibility for treatment expenses of up to ₹2 lakh in critical illness cases. Each year, the civic authority allocates approximately ₹50 to 60 crores towards the successful implementation of this essential scheme.

Overcoming Fraud and Misuse
The PMC has encountered instances of fraud and misuse in the past, with some individuals disqualified from the scheme but still availing its benefits for prolonged periods. Determined to put an end to such practices and enhance transparency, the PMC embarked on a comprehensive online process and digitalization of the Urban Poor Health Scheme. This transformative step enables a rigorous scrutiny of applicants and ensures that only deserving individuals reap the scheme’s benefits.

Leveraging Technology for Enhanced Accountability
To streamline the verification process and enhance transparency, the PMC has introduced a robust software system. Under this system, UPHS health cards must be reissued annually in April, allowing for regular updates and verification. The software seamlessly identifies citizens who pay property taxes to the PMC while simultaneously benefiting from the health scheme. This automated update empowers officials to promptly investigate and reject applications that do not meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria.

Successful Detection of Malpractice
The software-driven approach has already yielded promising results, exposing individuals who exploit the system for personal gain. During the initial implementation phase, the software identified 12 applicants who paid property taxes to the PMC ranging from ₹50K to ₹2 lakh annually. Such substantial property tax payments raise questions about the applicants’ actual property value and annual income. The flagged applications were subjected to thorough investigation, leading to their subsequent rejection, thereby preserving the sanctity of the Urban Poor Health Scheme.

Current Status and Future Prospects
Presently, the UPHS has issued health cards to 2,625 families, out of which 1,840 have been approved, 769 are under review, and 12 have been cancelled. This proactive approach ensures that eligible beneficiaries are not deprived of their rights, while concurrently preventing any undue advantage of the scheme. Dr. Bhagwan Pawar, the Health Officer of PMC, emphasizes that the use of software is instrumental in promoting transparency and digitizing the entire process. By adhering to strict regulations and validating only eligible individuals, the PMC guarantees that the scheme serves its intended purpose effectively.

Conclusion
Through the successful digitalization of the Urban Poor Health Scheme, the Pune Municipal Corporation has brought forth a new era characterized by accountability and transparency. By employing advanced computerized technologies, the PMC has effectively identified and rejected applications from residents who were paying substantial property taxes while benefiting from the health scheme. This transformative endeavor reinforces the PMC’s commitment to uplifting economically weaker sections and ensuring that deserving individuals receive the medical support they require. The digitization revolution has not only eliminated malpractices but has also strengthened the overall integrity of the Urban Poor Health Scheme.

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