Budget 2019: Prime Minister Modi’s health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat is among the most ambitious healthcare initiatives across the world, seeking to cover nearly 11 crore families or 50 crore people — about 40% of India’s 1.3 billion population. The scheme is considered a game changer for Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is seeking a second term in the general elections scheduled for April-May this year.
The scheme had gained worldwide attention after it was launched by the Prime Minister in September last year because of the sheer number of beneficiaries. The scheme envisages to provide free treatment of up to Rs Five lakh per eligible family in a year for treatment of serious ailments.
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Microsoft founder Bill Gates tweeted earlier this week praising the scheme when it achieved the important milestone by providing free treatment of nearly 7 lakh people within 100 days from its launch.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is expected to allocate a considerable amount for the scheme in the interim budget to be presented on February 1. Last year, Modi government has allocated over Rs 54,000 crore to the health ministry and with the rapid implementation of Ayushman Bharat scheme, this figure is expected to go up significantly.
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In his public speeches, the Prime Minister has often talked about his vision of providing free healthcare to poor families. Prime Minister Modi has often referred to the problems faced by poor families and how a serious ailment affecting just one family member could ruin the entire family.
How it works
Ayushman Bharat is not an enrollment-based scheme and the needy families don’t have to enroll to avail the benefits of the scheme. Another significant feature of the scheme is that all the pre-existing diseases are covered and hospitals can’t deny treatment to eligible families.
The scheme is designed to be based on entitlements. Any individual or family eligible under the five criteria as per the socio-economic caste (SECC) census for rural areas and 11 occupational criteria for urban areas will be entitled to the benefits.
All eligible families as per the deprivation and occupational criteria will be issued a dedicated PM-JAY identification number and a separate registration card will also be issued at the time of admission.
Eligible families can also get this registration card from any common service centre operated by the Government of India by paying a nominal fee of Rs. 30.
The scheme focuses on two areas – ease of access and quality care – for the beneficiaries. The government has mandated setting up of help centres in hospitals empanelled under the scheme.
Under the scheme, nearly 2.5 to 3 lakh PMJAY eCards are issued every day to eligible families, at this rate more than a crore or 10% of the target will be covered in the first year of the rollout.
“Record Streak for PMJAY. Today, we generated more than 3 lakh PMJAY eCards,” tweeted Dr Dinesh Arora, Deputy CEO of Ayushman Bharat (PM-JAY) scheme, on Wednesday.
The government has spent Rs 798.34 crore on the scheme till November end, minister of state for health and family welfare Anupriya Patel had informed the Rajya Sabha in the recently concluded winter session of Parliament.
The scheme is funded by the central and state governments in the ratio of 60:40. For Northeastern and Himalayan states, the centre will bear 90 per cent of the expenses towards the scheme.