Moving to lessen the healthcare woes of the poor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced that the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana or the Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission will cover 50 crore people across the country. It will be rolled out on September 25, the birth anniversary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya. The scheme will pilot in 106 districts in 14 states — the dates of the pilot launch will be worked out with the states.
In his Independence Day address, Modi said: “Even in middle class and affluent families, when one person falls ill, the entire family is diseased. That cycle of impoverishment continues for several generations. So we have decided 10 crore families every family will get Rs 5 lakh health cover per year.”
“The technology tools for this, because it will be a technology-driven programme to ensure maximum transparency, will be tested from today in different parts of the country for the next four to six weeks. And then, on September 25, on the birth anniversary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, it will be rolled out across the country,” he said.
Putting the figure in perspective, Modi said the total number of beneficiaries will equal the total population of the US, Canada and Mexico. Apart from putting a brake on the vicious cycle of impoverishment because of catastrophic medical expenses, Modi said, there will also be a spin-off effect on employment generation, especially in the medical sector as hospitals come up in Tier II and Tier III cities.
In-patient hospitalisation expenditure in India has increased nearly 300 per cent during last ten years (NSSO 2015). More than 80 per cent of the expenditure is met out of pocket. The data showed that rural households primarily depended on ‘household income/savings’ (68 per cent) and on ‘borrowings’ (25 per cent), while urban households relied much more on their ‘income/saving’ (75 per cent) for financing expenditure on hospitalisation, and on ‘borrowings’ (18 per cent). The out-of-pocket expenditure in India is over 60 per cent which results in nearly 6 million families getting into poverty due to catastrophic health expenses.
On the pilots, Ayushman Bharat CEO Indu Bhushan said: “The I-T platform has three arms: hospital empanelment, beneficiary verification and transaction management. This will need some degree of customisation in the states. That is what will happen over the next 40-45 days through state-level coordinators.”
The pilots will be carried out in 27 districts of Chhattisgarh, 23 in West Bengal, 22 in Haryana, 16 in Arunachal Pradesh, six in Madhya Pradesh, two each in Manipur, Uttarakhand and Daman & Diu and one each in Chandigarh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.