Unlike Employment Provident Fund Scheme which provides a universal account number through Aadhaar, the employers are issuing new enrolment numbers under the ESI for the workers even if they are previously covered. This leads to denial of free treatment in the referral hospitals or lab check-ups due to waiting period.
V Gopalakrishnan, who works at a private unit in Ambattur Industrial Estate, said he had been facing the issue over the issuance of the new ESI enrolment numbers by the companies whenever he switches jobs. “I and my family members can avail treatment at the ESI dispensary. If the doctors refer any of us for a test in a private lab or treatment in a private hospital, we will have to bear the entire cost due to the waiting period of six months for the employee and one year for the family members,” he said, adding he twice had to bear huge bills for the treatment of his 71-year-old mother and wife both have a health condition that requires continuous multi-speciality treatment.
A cook at a well-known restaurant in the city said he worked continuously in a restaurant for over 12 years and took two months’ break and returned to the same job when he was issued a new ESI enrolment card.
“I developed a heart problem and was referred to a private multi-speciality hospital but I had to pay for the bills due to the waiting period,” he lamented.
Gopalakrishnan had written to the ESI urging it to provide a universal account number for beneficiaries like in the EPFO so that there would not be any waiting period.
An ESI official said there was a mechanism available under the ESI to continue the same enrolment number even if they switch jobs. “HR at the companies end should fill up the right form for the members of the ESI and they should not issue new enrol-ment numbers,” he said.