NADRA extends biometric ID-linked health insurance to Punjab
Pakistan’s identity authority, the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA), has signed an agreement with the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (MoNHSRC) to bring the fast-growing Sehat Sahulat Program for inpatient health coverage to all of Punjab province, reports ProPakistani.
Or almost all of the province: registration with NADRA and possession of a national ID card (CNIC) is mandatory as is having a permanent address, potentially excluding many. The system also covers all transgender persons nationwide registered with NADRA.
The Sehat Sahulat Program operates as a digital ID for healthcare via the Qaumi Sehat Card and a “centralized management information system” of permanent residents in the areas covered. Already operational in divisions of Punjab such as Lahore and other parts of the country such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the move to covering all of Punjab marks a significant step.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (often KP or KPK) has a population of around 35 million; Punjab 110 million. Just over 7 million families are currently enrolled in KP. The target for Punjab is 85 million individuals across 26.3 million families.
After competitive bidding, the “micro health insurance” system is operated by the State Life Insurance Company of Pakistan. An accompanying Android app allows users to see their medical history as well as hospitals in the scheme. It is not clear whether NADRA has access to health records, although the national ID is needed to verify that treatment is permitted to the holder.
Punjab joins other parts of Pakistan that have coverage for all permanent residents with CNIC cards as the country strives for universal health coverage (for those with CNIC). According to the Sehat Sahulat Program, also known at the Prime Minister’s Health Program, these areas are Islamabad Capital Territory, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, District Tharparker – Sindh and “On Prime Minister’s special directives all transgender community (across Pakistan), who are registered in NADRA and has special CNIC are also covered.”
For example, the Sehat Card Plus site for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa states: “You are automatically enrolled if you are carrying a CNIC/Form B with permanent address. However, if your family status is not clear in NADRA database, you may not be eligible till you resolve the issue with NADRA.”
Elsewhere, eligibility for the Sehat Insaf Card and Qaumi Sehat Card can be checked by sending one’s Computerised National Identity Card number (CNIC) by SMS to a helpline. If eligible, a card can be collected at a local card distribution center and taken along with the original biometric CNIC card to a participating hospital for inpatient treatment.
The latest reporting from ProPakistani on Punjab states that the CNIC card itself can be used as a health care card for those eligible: “Based on the latest agreement with the MoNHSRC, the NADRA will provide a digital-based solution system that includes Data Verification Services, Family Composition, CNIC verification, a Centralized Management Information System, Call Center Services (Outbound) for feedback of beneficiaries, Data Hosting, and Allied Services, and Hospital Services Module.”
In an email, the Sehat Sahulat Program (SSP) confirmed that the CNIC is to be used directly: “You can use your CNIC/B-Form as your health card. Hospital services are linked with CNIC… The health cards are given as a part of the awareness campaign of the Sehat Sahulat Program. Health card is not mandatory for availing the hospital services.”
Punjab’s own healthcare website for the project states that only one card is issued per family and that any child born in a participating hospital is automatically enrolled. It also states that over 29 million families are already registered.
The project is proving popular, according to SSP’s own dashboard, but hospital care is not. Ninety-eight percent of users report that they have not been asked to pay for treatment, 96 percent are satisfied with the “treatment provided by Sehat Sahulat Program” yet 26 percent are satisfied with the hospital services.
Biometric Update contacted various health authorities and NADRA to clarify the disparities between reporting, government websites and the SSP.