Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) was launched with effect from 1st April 2003. The Scheme aims to provide allopathic and AYUSH medicare to Ex-servicemen pensioner and their dependents through a network of ECHS Polyclinics, Service medical facilities, Government hospitals, empanelled private hospitals/specified Govt. AYUSH hospitals spread across the country. The Scheme has been structured on the lines of CGHS to ensure cashless transactions, for the patients and is financed by the Government of India.
Matters relating to Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme have been allocated to Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare after its creation in September, 2004. Later vide Notification dated 29th January, 2009 ECHS has been designated as an attached office of Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare. The Central Organisation of ECHS is headed by a Managing Director, a serving Major General.
The Scheme is managed through the existing infrastructure of the Armed Forces so as to minimize the administrative expenditure. The existing infrastructure includes command and control structure, spare capacity of Service Medical facilities (Hospitals and Medical Inspection Rooms), procurement organization for medical and non-medical equipment, Defence land and buildings etc. Station Commanders assisted by Senior Executive Medical Officers (SEMO) exercise direct control over the ECHS Polyclinics.
There are 427 Polyclinics (excluding 6 Polyclinics in Nepal) in 30 Regional Centres sanctioned by the Government, ECHS Polyclinics are designed to provide 'Out Patient Care' which includes consultation, essential investigation and provision of medicines. Specialized consultations, investigations and 'In Patient Care' (Hospitalization) is provided through spare capacity available in Service hospitals / Government Hospitals / private hospitals empanelled with ECHS.