Up to Rs 5 lakh health cover for all
New Delhi: In a major decision aimed at providing affordable healthcare facilities to all, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday announced an ambitious and probably world's largest health protection scheme in his Union Budget 2018-19.
As per the scheme, the government has pledged to provide health insurance cover of up to Rs 5 lakh to everyone annually yearly basis for secondary and tertiary hospital care. The first-of-its-kind public insurance programme will be launched as National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS).
While announcing the flagship scheme in the Union Budget 2018-19, Jaitley said, "We will launch a flagship National Health Protection Scheme to cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. This will be the world's largest government-funded health care programme. Adequate funds will be provided for smooth implementation of this programme."
Hailing the Union Budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Ayushman Bharat will help 10 crore families in their medical need. This is the biggest ever government-sponsored health care programme in the world."
Notably, the Millennium Post had first reported about the launching of an affordable health insurance cover for all in its January 16 edition. Also, this paper in its January 27 edition had first reported about government's decision to upgrade all 1.5 lakh sub-centres into wellness clinics that would be equipped with all the needed facilities to treat and screen patients suffering from common diseases.
Announcing the same, the Finance Minister said, "As wellness centres are the foundation of India's health system, the 1.5 lakh centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people. These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services. Also, these centres will provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services."
"I am committing Rs 1,200 crore in this budget for this flagship programme and I also invite contribution of the private sector through CSR and philanthropic institutions in adopting these centres," Jaitley said while presenting the budget.
Aiming to put a check on the rise in tuberculosis cases, the government has decided to provide Rs 500 to every TB patient for nutritional support per month for the duration of their treatment. The government has allocated additional Rs 600 crore for its implementation.
In another major push to healthcare, the Finance Minister said that the government also plans to upgrade 24 district-level medical colleges to ensure that there is at least one government medical college for every three parliamentary constituencies.
Meanwhile, the experts have criticised the scheme providing health insurance cover to all. "The the announced the scheme without any preparations. There is no clarity about the potential beneficiaries and the mechanism its implementation. The government has not even discussed the scheme with states --- the implementing bodies," an expert said.