Govt launches a flagship healthcare scheme to cover 10 cr poor families

Feb 03, 2018, 07:41

Asked about an earlier scheme where the Government had announced a Rs 1 lakh coverage, Nadda said that under that programme, there were only four crore beneficiaries, whose number has been enhanced now.

While the Centre will bear an annual burden of around Rs 5,000-6,000 crore towards premium on health cover, the remaining amount will come from the state governments, he said. The scheme, although appreciated by experts, also raises apprehension about its implementation and the initial corpus of just Rs 2,000 crore.

Modicare, which shares its blueprint with the Affordable Care Act that was championed by Barack Obama in the United States, will provide a shot in the arm for the healthcare sector, increasing the insurance cover per family by over 1500% from Rs.30,000 under the extant RSBY, to Rs.5 lakh.

"More than 20 states are already implementing the health-protection scheme, some of them are topping up the RSBY to increase the cover to about Rs 2 lakh", an official said.

For the current government health insurance scheme, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, the premium paid by the government is Rs750 per family per annum, but for NHPS the premium will be around Rs1,000-1,200 per family per annum, which could come down with an open tender process, according to Alok Kumar, an adviser with government think tank NITI Aayog, which played an important part in the structuring of the scheme. The details will be shared only when the government is ready to launch it, he said.

The Budget has also allocated Rs 1,200 crore towards Health and Wellness Centres envisioned in the National Health Policy 2017. We have to work that out with all other departments as well and the government is committed to roll out this programme. These centres will provide treatment for non-communicable diseases, and disburse primary care to young mothers and children. The centres will provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. At present, there are 479 medical colleges affiliated to the Medical Council of India (MCI) as opposed to 543 parliamentary constituencies. Chandigarh has the most doctors per capita with 279.9 doctors per lakh of the population.

Another unflattering statistic which Modicare would seek to remedy is India's low per capita expenditure at constant Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). This metric is often used to compare income levels or the price of a basket of goods in different countries.

The insurance industry has welcomed the Budget saying the proposals for a national safety net for the poor in particular and the health insurance sector in particular will act as a catalyst to increase health insurance penetration. Further, private health insurance expenditure was Rs 177.55 billion (Rs 17,755 crore), or 3.7 per cent of total health expenditure, for the year 2014-15. The Secretary said the scheme would cover the poor and near-poor families which would be identified based either on the Socio-Economic Survey or the poverty line. Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, and Denmark are among the countries that make the top ten. India ranked 130 out of 180 countries in the study.

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