India’s public health insurance system implements biometrics to cut fraud

The Indian government’s flagship health insurance scheme will soon require biometric verification for patient admissions and discharge processes to crack down on “ghost admissions,” ThePrint reports.

Ayushman Bharat was launched by the government in 2018, and Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan told ThePrint that reports of fraud under the scheme have led the government to “de-empanel” around 100 hospitals and fine them 25 million rupees (US$350,000).

“The National Health Authority is issuing new guidelines as new patterns emerge and additional safeguards are introduced,” Vardhan explains. “For example, we are going to introduce biometric authentication at the time of admission and discharge.”

The government will also consider artificial intelligence tools for fraud detection.

Ayushman Bharat currently provides coverage to roughly 500 million Indians. The Modi government intends for the insurance scheme to expand to cover 900 million patients, or 70 percent of the country’s population, and add hospitals affiliated with the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) to the eligible health care facilities, which could double the number of hospital beds available.

Other related initiatives include data analysis in cooperation with the WHO and the World Bank, and an accreditation effort led by the Quality Council of India.

India is currently in the process of standing up a national facial recognition system.

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