Ayushman Bharat: the big budget scheme

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The Government announced two major initiatives in health sector, as part of Ayushman Bharat programme. The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, while presenting the General Budget 2018-19 in Parliament here today said that this was aimed at making path breaking interventions to address health holistically, in primary, secondary and tertiary care systems, covering both prevention and health promotion.

Highlights of the scheme:

  • ‘Ayushman Bharat’ programme to address health holistically, in primary, secondary and tertiary care system, covering both prevention and health promotion.
  • The insurance scheme, billed as the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme and seen as a precursor to universal health coverage, can be used to pay for hospitalization.
  • National Health Protection Scheme that will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families, or around 50 crore people.
  • Adequate funds will be provided for the scheme, set to be the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme, A provisional allocation of Rs. 2,000 crore has been made for the scheme in the Budget. Coverage of up to Rs. 5 lakh a family a year will be provided for secondary and tertiary-care hospitalization.
  • The finance minister allocated Rs 600 crore to provide nutritional support for each tuberculosis patient. Under the provision, Rs500 a month will be paid through the treatment period to each patient.
  • Besides reinforcing access healthcare, the health insurance cover will lead to the creation of jobs in the sector as new facilities come up in districts and villages.
  • It would expand the coverage under Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana by bringing all 60 crore basic accounts within its fold.
  • Under the existing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), poor families get an annual coverage of Rs. 30,000. Several State governments have implemented or supplemented health protection schemes that provide varying coverage.

The initiatives are as follows:-

  1. Health and Wellness Centre: – The National Health Policy, 2017 has envisioned Health and Wellness Centres as the foundation of India’s health system. Under this 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. These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. The Budget has allocated Rs.1200 crore for this flagship programme. Contribution of private sector through CSR and philanthropic institutions in adopting these centres is also envisaged.
  2. National Health Protection Scheme:- The second flagship programme under Ayushman Bharat is National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage up to 5 lakh rupees 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.
    These two health sector initiatives under Ayushman Bharat Programme will build a New India 2022 and ensure enhanced productivity, wellbeing and avert wage loss and impoverishment. These Schemes will also generate lakhs of jobs, particularly for women.

Conclusion:

Ayushman Bharat scheme is a path-breaking initiative to provide quality and affordable health care. It will benefit approximately 50 crore Indians. The scale of this scheme is unparalleled and it will bring a paradigm shift in our health sector.

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