ECHS News Letter – Jan 11

2 Feb


ECHS was started on 01 Apr 2003 based on felt need of a large population of ex-servicemen across the country. This scheme modeled on the lines of CGHS provided comprehensive medical cover to the members for all known diseases. Prior to 1963 there was no provision for Medicare to ex-servicemen. In 1963, the govt. permitted limited medical facilities to the ex-servicemen. Limitation was based on local availability of facility and medicines. Local purchase of medicines for treating ex-servicemen was not allowed since the concession was based on local spare capacity utilisation within existing budgetary allocations for serving soldiers. Only ex-servicemen and their spouse / widows were permitted this ‘gratis’ Medicare with exclusions of diseases like cardiac ailments, renal failures, cancer, TB, leprosy, psy illness and paraplegia. Military Hospitals covered places where only 20% of ex-servicemen had settled. Therefore only very limited number of patients could actually get medical attention by the AFMS. 

ECHS was therefore the most notable welfare scheme ever launched in India for ex-servicemen. The members of ECHS became entitled to comprehensive Medicare covering all known diseases. ECHS marked Govt’s commitment to providing full budgetary support to the healthcare of ex-servicemen and their families. Not only ex-servicemen and their spouse / widows, ECHS covered entitled parents and children. ECHS beneficiaries became entitled to treatment not only in service hospitals, they could also be referred to select private hospitals for best possible Medicare and to ensure that service hospitals are not overloaded. Apart from 106 ECHS Polyclinics in military stations, 121 Polyclinics were established in non-military stations where a large majority of retired soldiers had settled down. These Polyclinics were provided with doctors, physicians, paramedics and at some places even gynaecologists to provide full fledged OPD facility to the members. Diagnostic aides like X-Ray and path lab has also been provided at the polyclinics.

ECHS membership has now crossed 11 Lakh with a total of over 34 Lakh beneficiaries. Smart cards have been issued to the members to establish irrefutable proof of the identity through biometrics.

As the scheme progressed and advanced towards stabilisation, the large and expanding beneficiary base necessitated review and reforms. Main challenge of the scheme was how to handle increasing OPD load at the Polyclinics with skeletal contractual staff authorisation, how to decongest the high-pressure Polyclinics and service

hospitals, how to prevent infirm patients running from pillar to post for getting entitled Medicare and reimbursements and how to extend the reach of ECHS to remote areas with considerable ex-servicemen population.

The free and frank no holds barred discussions during the Chandimandir ECHS Seminar of Jul 2009 based on theme-‘The Way Ahead’, marked a turning point for ECHS and facilitated much needed reforms. Reformed referral policy liberalized procedure for treatment in private hospitals and paved way for decongesting service hospitals (Army, Command and Zonal), removed local restrictions on referrals and opened non-empanelled dialysis centres for beneficiaries. Direct referrals by remote Polyclinics were permitted to empanelled super-speciality hospitals of nearby cities. This enabled the outstation patients to directly access outstation multi-speciality hospitals without being referred through high-pressure Polyclinics of larger cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Pune etc. This provision also helped in preventing congestion at the Polyclinics of these cities.

Another issue facilitated during the Chandimandir Seminar was mutual decision by the Services and the ex-servicemen’s bodies to work in partnership for resolving problems of members and for improving the services under the Scheme. Voluntary service by the members has been notable at Secunderabad Polyclinic where right from registration of sick report to assistance in construction of additional accommodation, member volunteers are doing wonderful works. The ‘Secunderabad Model’ is there for others to emulate and take a notch higher.

After persistent efforts of the Armed Forces, the Govt has approved the expansion of ECHS to open 199 additional ECHS Polyclinics. This will enable benefits to ex-servicemen in districts where their population is up to 1500. Remote areas where the ECHS population is up to 800 would also be covered. Anomaly of denial of ECHS membership to Nepal Domiciled Gorkha ex-servicemen was removed when the Govt. approved their membership for treatment in India. It is now intended to seek establishment of Polyclinics in Nepal. This would bring the NDGs ex-servicemen settled in Nepal at par with their counterparts in India.

Certain other improvements in the scheme being actively pursued with the Govt. are:-

-Enhancement of powers of competent financial authorities to enable early consideration of Medicare bills.

-Improving supply of medicines and consumables through two means. The first, through the proposal of outsourcing the pharmacy services to reputed manufacturers and suppliers and the second through enhancing the financial limit of local purchase of medicines by Officer-in-charge of the Polyclinics. Provision is also being sought for reimbursement of purchase of non-available medicine to the members.

-Improving quality of OPD services at the Polyclinics by seeking authorisation of deficient category of essential staff like radiologists, radiographers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, dental assistants / hygienists and clerks. Presently the Armed Forces are spending approx Rs 5 Crore annually for this purpose.

-There are about 6.5 Lakh ECHS hospitalizations each year. Hospital bill clearance takes much longer than the stipulated period of 60 days in absence of dedicated staff / organisation for this purpose. Therefore bill processing by Third Party Administrators is intended to replace the present adhoc processing system.. This would not only reduce load from the Station HQs but also enable the hospitals to receive reimbursements within three weeks of bill submission.

-Empanelment of private hospitals for providing cashless treatment to ECHS beneficiaries is an ongoing process. However, this process takes unduly long due to delayed submission of completed proceedings of Board of Officers convened for this purpose. In some cases, this process takes nearly two years. Govt. is now considering utilizing the services of National Board of Accredition for Hospitals and Healthcare providers (NABH). This step is expected to reduce the empanelment period to approx a month.

While the formal Govt. nod for much needed improvements in ECHS is awaited, certain other steps have been taken by the Armed Forces for meeting the enhanced aspirations of the beneficiaries. Providing telephonic appointments with the Polyclinic doctors in afternoons is a small step, which has added to clientele satisfaction. ECHS staff at various high-pressure stations has also been advised to set up extension counters in localities with high member density so that ECHS benefits, especially medicines are available in their neighborhood. This step would also help in decongesting the Polyclinics.

It has been realized that such a large health scheme cannot be effectively managed without using technology. Therefore, automation of Polyclinic processes and networking of all Polyclinics is underway on Public Private Partnership model.

Recently a study on ECHS and CGHS was conducted by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. The survey undertaken under this study revealed the members preference for ECHS as against offered health insurance scheme. 93% beneficiaries preferred ECHS to health insurance.

ECHS is a flagship welfare scheme of the Govt. for the welfare of ex-servicemen. Approximately Rs 1000 Crore is being spent by the Govt. for meeting the health care needs of the veteran soldiers and their families of the three services and the Indian Coast Guard. The Armed Forces are continuously endeavouring to improve the quality and reach of this scheme, which is now on the threshold of a major expansion.

Ten ECHS hospitals are planned at Delhi Cantt, Chandigarh/Panchkula, Jalandhar Cantt, Lucknow, Kolkata, Jaipur/Jodhpur, Secundrabad, Pune, Kochi and Bangalore. ECHS hospital at Delhi Cantt will be established first followed by other cities. These hospitals will be of are 500 beds facility in 25 acre area with a capital and revenue budget of 250 Crore and 135 Crore respectively.

ECHS Website.

E-mail ID.

Contact Tele Nos. MDECHS – 011-25684846

Dir ECHS (N) – 011-24101319


7 Responses to “ECHS News Letter – Jan 11”

  1. Krishan kumar August 1, 2012 at 5:54 AM #

    Sir i m exservieceman of indian army. i have not applyed for echs card and not got any medical benefits but i m not getting any medical alloueces in pension for last year aeter after informed to bank to stop medical allounces before applying for echs card but i could not apqly for echs card. Can i get benefits of medical allounces of last 3 yr now.please reply.


    • desanavy August 5, 2012 at 12:42 PM #




  2. NS Pathania May 14, 2012 at 4:40 AM #

    Dear MD ( ECHS, Maude Lines Delhi):- Perhaps you have forgotten ESM of Nurpur in HP having the numbers above 10,000 ( above 30,000 including their dependents ) who have till date contributed above 5Cr rupees towards ECHS contribution who can not reach Polyclinic at Pathankot Pb which is above 55 kms to 65 Kms away from this flung area! Will you please show some mercy by considering minimum two Polyclinics for this region, since one policlinic shall be established for 1500 ESM as per the policy in order? Col NS Pathania (Retd) Chairman ESL Nurpur HP.


  3. Chandra shekhar January 3, 2012 at 2:33 AM #

    I am ex-serviceman of indian airforce.I am settle in siwan distric of bihar and my echs card issued from gorakhpur distric of uttar pradesh and my echs hospital is gorakhpur so is i treament my ward anywhere of echs hospital in my bihar distric or what is the process of to change the echs hospital of my echs card


  4. Captain AK WASON (RETD) (01720H) October 6, 2011 at 3:28 PM #

    I have wasted more than an hour searching for list of ECHS empannelled hospitals in Delhi. I could not find any list. Page 63 of the ECHS booklet gives list of diagnostic centers under the heading Hospitals. It is too old to be believed. It is of 2008 vintage.

    Can ECHS make a user friendly website to search for hospitals’ lists citywise, statewise and specialitywise. It also needs to be udated on weekly basis.

    Please educate me if I am wrong.

    Captain AK Wason (Retd)


    • desanavy October 12, 2011 at 1:06 PM #

      dear capt wason sir,
      echs website has empannelled hospitols as indicated by echs team during nf agm.
      mvs kum ar


  5. Ex-Rect Anil kumar TK September 4, 2011 at 5:35 PM #

    I am ex- (RECT) Indian Army (R) 1996 , my marrege is 2004 my wife and childres . Perance not a ECHS facilities by sir


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