The Centre on Thursday refuted media reports that Aadhaar was mandatory for beneficiaries under its Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme. The biometric identification is “desirable”, not mandatory, to avail the benefits of the scheme, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare clarified.

Earlier, a media report had said that beneficiaries without an Aadhaar card must submit proof that they have applied for one. The report had cited a purported notification issued by the ministry on July 4.

The government said it was a draft notification, and that it “merely enables the implementation agencies to ask for the beneficiary’s Aadhaar card to authenticate their identity”. The use of Aadhaar card for the purpose is preferable but “not a must”, the government said.

“There shall be no denial of benefit for want of Aadhaar number,” the ministry said.

Union Health Minister JP Nadda said the government will provide services to “all eligible beneficiaries with or without Aadhaar cards”.

The draft notification also provides for other identification mechanisms such as ration card and voter ID card for those without an Aadhaar number.

“Furthermore, it also makes the implementation agencies accountable for setting up of Aadhaar enrolment centres for beneficiaries who are not yet enrolled at convenient locations,” the government said.

The healthcare scheme plans to provide insurance cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year to over 10 crore poor families for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.