If imitation is the best from of flattery, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) is fast becoming an international model for targeted distribution of benefits.
The success of smart card technology for health insurance to the poor have found followers in Egypt and Iraq. The countries have shown interest in using the technology for reforms in their own health insurance and public distribution systems.
The Egyptian government has already begun talks with Indias labour ministry to emulate the RSBY technology for its own public health insurance scheme.
A delegation led by our technical team had discussions with the Egyptian government, said Anil Swarup, additional secretary, ministry of labour and employment.
Launched in October 2007, the RSBY provides smart card-based cashless health insurance cover of up to Rs 30,000 per year to over 3.31 crore smart card holders from below poverty line families as well as some worker groups in the unorganised sector such as domestic workers.
Apart from personal details, the RSBY card contains photos and fingerprints of the holders, which can be verified offline through hand held or point of service machines.
Meanwhile, Iraq where much of the foodgrain for the public distribution is imported, is also planning to ride the RSBYs technology platform.
We have had discussions with the Iraq government who are now planning to run some pilot projects using RSBYs smart card technology. The World Bank will be assisting the pilot runs, Swarup said.
Swarup along with senior officials from the labour ministry at the behest of the World Bank had earlier this month met a delegation of the Iraq government led by its minister of planning in Istanbul.
Using smart cards helps eliminate ghost beneficiaries and also provides data on the quantity of grains being sold by a ration shop, Swarup said, adding that states like Chhattisgarh in India have universalised the scheme and begun to use the smart cards for their PDS system.
Other states like Kerala and Punjab also plan to use the smart cards to deliver foodgrain to genuine beneficiaries from ration shops.