The government in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is compiling a database of users’ mobile numbers so that it can better administer a health insurance scheme for the poor. The department is collecting phones number for those mobile subscribers who are also beneficiaries of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana scheme, literally meaning National Health Insurance Scheme in Hindi, according to The Indian Express newspaper. The database will help verify and keep track of recipients in India's most populous state as well as send them SMS alerts about the scheme. Uttar Pradesh is the first Indian state building such a database.
The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, which has been running for four years, is targeted at what the Indian government calls BPL, or below poverty line, families. These families are entitled to get a smart card to which they add their fingerprints and photographs. The card is the means to gain free medical care at state-run and private hospitals.
A similar database of mobile numbers was compiled for the Indian government’s Janani Suraksha Yojana, a scheme to encourage births to take place at health facilities which is offered under the government’s National Rural Health Mission. This earlier database is a model for the current process.
One interviewee in the article noted the incidence of fraud, a motivation for compiling such databases. Health workers are now being asked to keep a record of the contact number for recipients under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana scheme. Those without a mobile number during this process will have to supply one if they want an insurance card. It does not say what recipients without a mobile phone will do.