Army Dependent Card
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Medical Entitlement Certificate mandatory for treatment in service hospital

The Armed Forces, via its Medical Establishment (Med Est), offer complete healthcare services to Service personnel and their families. The Army Medical Corps plays a key role in providing combat medical care through Military Hospitals, Field Hospitals, and Unit Medical Inspection Rooms.

If any service personnel or their family members want to take medical services from these hospitals, they need an Army Dependent Card. While exserviceman need to have ECHS card to get treatment in ECHS empanelled Hospitals or ECHS polyclinics. They are verified for taking medical treatment from this military hospital by showing an Army Dependent Card till Jan 2024.

But this fashion has been changed, recently the Integrated HQ of MOD has published a notice regarding the Army Dependent Card and made regulatory changes. From February 1, 2024, the Army Dependent Card is no longer considered a valid document, and a new Certificate called Medical Entitlement Certificate (MEC) is required for obtaining medical facilities from military hospitals.

If you are in a hurry to know about this new rule then this article is for you. In this article, we will tell you:

  • What is the new rule regarding the Army Dependent Card?
  • What new document you will need to avail medical facilities from military hospitals?
  • What are the new criteria for dependency?
  • What is the procedure for issuing MECs?

So, to know everything, stick to this article till the end.

Why is the Army Dependent Card no longer valid for Medical facilities?

In a recent inspection by the Armed Forces Service Entitlement Committee (ASEC) of Armed Forces Hospitals (AH) RR and Base Hospitals Delhi Cantt (BHDC) has identified a significant increase in the number of dependents receiving medical treatment. 

As a result, it has been recommended to reassess the process of issuing dependent cards. Additionally, complaints have been received by the Directorate General regarding the fraudulent preparation and utilization of dependent cards by non-entitled individuals.

As per Appendix 'B' of Administrative Order (AO) 74/75, the dependent card in circulation pertains solely to Travel Concessions on Indian Airlines and does not comply with the authorized format outlined in AO 120/80, specifically designated for medical entitlement.

From when Dependent Cards will not be effective?

February 1, 2024, the Dependent Card format specified in AO 74/75 will no longer be recognized for medical entitlement at hospitals. Any dependent presenting a card in this format will be denied medical treatment. The authorized format, as per AO 120/80, must be utilized henceforth. Furthermore, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force hospitals are urged to adopt and enforce this new format, rejecting the old one outlined above.

Concurrently, a comprehensive revision of AO 120/80 is underway, encompassing procedures for card issuance, protocols for lost cards, and measures to verify dependency. In the interim, Appendix A of AO 120/80 has been amended, with the updated format of the Medical Entitlement Certificate (MEC) provided in this article.

Medical Entitlement Certificate

The following are important points regarding the issuance of the MEC by the units/Stn HQs, which must be strictly implemented as a priority.

Who will be the MEC issuing Authority?

  • CO/ Commandant of units not below the rank of Col will be the issuing authority of MEC (Medical Entitlement Certificate).
  • Stn Cdr/ Adm Comat of Stn will be issuing auth for pers of smaller units commanded by Lt Col and below.

Criteria of Dependency

  • The definition of a family of officers and Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) or Other Ranks (OR) is outlined in the Defence Service Regulations - Regulations for the Medical Services of the Armed Forces-2010 (RMSAF-2010).
  • Income Criteria for Parents - The current income threshold, defining dependency, is set at 9000/- per month, as stipulated in Directorate General letter No B/76785/Policy/Income Limit/(DGMS-5B dated September 18, 2017. 
  • Service personnel are required to submit either the Income Certificate of parents issued by the Revenue Department of the District or the Annual Income Certificate (AIS) issued by the Income Tax Department. These certificates are used to determine the income status of the parents.

Procedure for issue of Medical Entitlement Certificate

  • Service personnel are required to submit a Personal Application to the issuing authority.
  • Alongside the application, they must provide Requisite Part II orders or Field Service Documents to establish the relationship and dependency.
  • During the initial registration and issuance of the Medical Entitlement Certificate (MEC), a self-attested copy of the Aadhar Card must be submitted along with the original.
  • The issuing authority will carefully examine all submitted documents. The Officer Commanding (OC) of minor units will verify the documents of unit personnel and forward them to the issuing authority at the Station Headquarters (Stn HQ).
  • Upon verifying the correctness of the documents as per Appendix A, the issuing authority will issue the Medical Entitlement Certificate. Details of all dependents will be endorsed on the MEC.
  • The number of original MEC cards issued will match the number of dependents endorsed on the MEC, ensuring that each dependent possesses an individual card.
  • Any falsification of information by the Service personnel or failure by the issuing authority to verify correctness is subject to administrative action as per Section 57 of the Army Act 1950. Therefore, utmost diligence must be exercised during the issuance of MEC.
  • MEC Validity: The MEC will be valid for three years from the date it's issued or until the Army Order about it comes out, whichever happens first.

For HQ Command (Med) Only 

  • Instructions are to be issued to hospitals in the Area of Responsibility (AOR) to discontinue accepting existing dependent cards from February 1, 2024. Wide dissemination of this directive within the Station/Area of Responsibility (Stn/AOR) is required repeatedly.
  • However, dependents will not be denied medical supervision, admission, or treatment in emergency cases. Units of such cases will receive a prompt signal to forward the Medical Entitlement Certificate (MEC) at the earliest.
  • Dependents must present their MEC and a copy of their Aadhar card for verification. Aadhar cards on Digilocker will also be accepted until Aadhar Biometric terminals are installed.
  • Once Aadhar Biometric terminals are available, they will be placed at hospital reception to verify details as endorsed in the MECs produced at the time of admission. Instructions for strict implementation of MEC issuance in a time-bound manner should be issued to units in the AOR.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

  • What is the new rule for obtaining medical treatment from military hospitals?

The new rule is that the Army Dependent Card is no longer considered a valid document from Feb 1, 2024, and a new Certificate called Medical Entitlement Certificate (MEC) is required for obtaining medical facilities for the same. 

  • From when the Dependent Card is not considered a valid document?

From Feb 1, 2024, the Dependent Card is not considered a valid document. 

  • What is the full form of MEC?

MEC’ stands for Medical Entitlement Certificate. It is a new type of Certificate/document that will be required from Feb 1, 2024, to get medical treatment from the military hospitals. 

  • What is the validity of MEC?

The MEC will be valid for three years from the date of its issuance.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, seeing a significant rise in the number of dependents receiving medical treatment, the medical authorities have decided to reassess the dependent card issuing process and become more strict in issuing dependent cards. 

Armed force officials have strictly directed all military hospitals that from Feb 1, 2024, Dependent cards with the old format will no longer be valid documents to avail medical facilities from the hospitals. To obtain medical facilities, Dependents must carry their MEC (Medical Entitlement Certificate) and a copy of their Aadhar card for verification by hospital authorities. 

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