Over five lakh beneficiaries have availed themselves of free hospitalisation benefits worth a total of `700 crore in less than 80 days of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), which offers `5-lakh-a-year free health cover to 10.7 crore households. Going by the trend, the average hospitalisation cost per person works out to be around `15,589, higher than Rs 10,000 estimated by the Niti Aayog. State governments and the National Health Agency have empanelled over 15,000 hospitals to provide hospitalisation services under the scheme. This is even as efforts are on to empanel more branded specialty hospitals under the scheme. As the scheme matures and payments are streamlined, greater percentage of hospitals in PMJAY would be branded, Ayushman Bharat CEO Indu Bhushan told FE recently. Medanta in Gurugram, Apollo in Chennai and Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bengaluru are some of the top branded and super specialty hospitals which are already empanelled after the scheme was rolled out on September 23. NHA plans to issue about five crore beneficiary cards to inform people and generate hospitalisation demand from rural population. So far, about 20.74 lakh cards have been issued. The hospitalisation and treatment cost are shared in 6:4 ratio between the Centre and states. The cost of the scheme would be much lower in FY19 as half of the year is over. For 2018-19, the PMJAY might cost the Centre about Rs 4,000 crore (including one-time investments on IT) and the states about `1,600 crore. The scheme might provide hospitalisation benefits to 25 lakh in the current fiscal year. So far, bulk of beneficiaries are from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Maharashtra, the states which had prior experience of similar schemes.