Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS)

The ECHS is a government-funded scheme which aims to provide high quality and improved facilities for healthcare to the various Ex-Servicemen Pensioners and their associated dependents via a network of ECHS Polyclinics, Service medical facilities, and Empanneled Civil & Govt hospitals all over the country.

What is the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS)?

  • The ECHS scheme is designed to provide cashless treatment for the likely beneficiaries of the ex-servicemen core of the Armed Forces.
  • The treatment provided is as per the allopathic standards and aims to have holistic care of all veterans of the Armed Forces.
  • However, at times, due to lack of facilities and operating space, the retired personnel are referred to civil empanelled hospitals for some treatments.
  • This policy of referring can result in expensive bills for the ECHS.

Why is it in the news?

  • The Indian Army is requesting the transfer of the ECHS from the Revenue Budget to Defence Petitions funding to the Central government.
  • This demand has come on the backdrop of regular fund shortages in the ECHS which leads to a shortfall in available medicines which affect the quality of treatment being provided to the 50 lakh Army veterans and their dependents.
  • The Central government had shifted the funding of the ECHS to the army?s revenue budget from this fiscal year.
  • ECHS claims that the government had allocated more than Rs 3,000 cr less than what it had requested from the government to meet its obligation.
  • The biggest challenge before the ECHS is to ensure that it is being allocated funds as per its required proportional.
  • The Indian Army claims that in part due to the periodic revision of pensions, the pension fund has an adequate amount of cash and if the ECHS is brought under it, this will ensure that the scheme will have adequate funds to meet all its obligations.

Use of the Army’s revenue budget?

The Indian Army?s revenue budget is utilized to pay for the salaries of serving defense personnel. This leaves little funds for other operational expenditure like the procurement and transportation of ammunition, spares.

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