Port Blair, Aug 28: The Member of Parliament, A&N Islands, Shri. Kuldeep Rai Sharma has requested the Union Minister, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi to make special provision for patients of Andaman & Nicobar Islands to provide travelling cost by flight and include all medical tests in the final bill of Ayushman Bharat Scheme.

In a letter addressed to the Union Minister, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Member of Parliament further requested that in case making such special provision in Ayushman Bharat Scheme is not possible for Andaman & Nicobar Islands, then Andaman and Nicobar Administration may be allowed to continue Andaman & Nicobar Islands Scheme for Health Insurance (ANISHI) for the resident of Andaman & Nicobar Islands in place of Ayushman Bharat Scheme, as a special case, until proper medical treatment facilities for all the serious diseases are created in the Hospitals in A&N Islands.

He mentioned that a commendable scheme namely Andaman & Nicobar Islands Scheme for Health Insurance (ANISHI) was introduced in Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2015 for treatment of patients suffering from serious disease at mainland as referred by the GB Pant Hospital, A & N Islands.

He added that permanent residents of these Islands with family income upto income below 3 lakhs rupees per annum were eligible for treatment under this scheme.

The Member of Parliament pointed out that the Health Insurance scheme (ANISHI) provided cashless treatment upto Rupees 5 Lakhs per patients per illness which included indoor as well as outdoor treatments, medical test cost and free travel expenses for patients with one attendant. Critically ill patients, if referred under the scheme to travel by flight, used to be entitled for reimbursement of the air ticket for patient and one attendant.

Later this scheme was stopped in 2020 and presently patients suffering from serious diseases are being sent to the mainland only under Ayushman Bharat Scheme.

He mentioned that although the Ayushman Bharat Scheme provides free treatment to BPL patients, this scheme is not suited for Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

He further added that as Andaman and Nicobar Island are situated nearly 1200 KM away from Chennai and Kolkata travelling by flight is the only option for Islanders to reach Mainland India, in absence of passenger ships.

Shri. Kuldeep Rai Sharma pointed out that for referred patients most of the cases it becomes unaffordable to travel to Mainland India for specialized treatment due to high airfare. Most of the Islanders, living in remote Islands are so poor that they often find it difficult to travel to Port Blair for treatment.

He said that under ANISHI scheme, patients from Andaman and Nicobar Islands used to get travel expenses for patients and one attendant but under Ayushman Bharat Scheme no such travel expense is given.

The MP also highlighted that under Ayushman Bharat scheme patients are being asked to pay for all medical tests before treatment in Mainland Hospitals, which again becomes unaffordable for the most of the patients, who as per present rule, are from BPL category. In normal cases these medical tests cost nearly Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 40,000 per patient. However, under ANISHI scheme all costs of medical tests were also included.