Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday offered first glimpse into the BJP government’s ambitious Universal Health Assurance (UHA) Scheme which, he said, would have an insurance component, assured package of diagnostics and availability of at least 50 essential drugs.
The government, he said, will pay premium for the poor who cannot afford it and he will ask the Finance Ministry to give incentives to those opting for it so that there is a “big pool” of people availing the benefit which will bring down the premium.
“There has to be an assured preventive and positive health package. There has to be an assured availability of at least 50 medicine which are essentials and an assured package of diagnostics which are absolutely essentials…
“The premiums for those underprivileged who cannot pay will be taken care of by the government,” Vardhan said at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) meet on health insurance.
The 50 medicines will take care of at times 95 per cent of diagnostic.
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“UHA Scheme is in the process of being finalised and will be presented to the nation within the current financial year,” he said, adding that he would not share more details because it has to be presented before the Cabinet for final approval.
The government, he said, will negotiate premiums with insurance companies for those who will find it difficult to pay because they think that the companies will exploit them.
Recalling the President’s address to Parliament in June in which he had spoken about the government’s commitment to universal health care, Vardhan said he had formed a committee of experts drawn from related fields and they have reached a “concrete end” after long deliberations.
“Their interim report is with me and I can disclose at this stage that the future indeed looks good,” he said.
Health sector, he said, will see a boom once the scheme takes off and different industries will benefit from it.
One of the biggest challenges, Vardhan noted, would be to keep up the supply of doctors and technical personnel. The present doctor to population ratio, one to 1,700, needs to be improved. A great number of technical personnel in diagnostics and radiology among others are also necessary, he said.