The government and the insurers on Thursday kicked off the process for the roll-out of the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS).
The Ministry of Health met the general insurers and state-owned reinsurer GIC Re in New Delhi to prepare the road-map for the world’ s largest health insurance scheme, which is likely to be expanded at a later stage. While the broad contours of the scheme — like whether the government would a prefer an insurance model or a Trust model — are not known, the details are being worked out in discussions with state health secretaries and general insurers. The implementation will involve questions about how the centre and states will split financing the scheme in a 60:40 ratio, and how the national insurance scheme will fit in with the existing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (or RSBY which targets those below the poverty line) and state level schemes in states like Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
While Niti Aayog has suggested that the government should pay around Rs 1,000 of premium per policy, general insurers have insisted that Rs 2,500 of premium per policy on the basis of acturial pricing to make the scheme sustainable in the long run. As it’s a unique scheme to be implemented on a mass scale, insurers are keen that they shouldn’t end up making huge losses. If the government agrees to the Rs 2,500 premium, the cost will more than double from the present estimate of Rs 10,000-12,000 crore. The ministry had earlier called meeting of health secretaries of states to get their suggestions on implementation of the mega scheme.
Under the scheme, announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his February 1 Budget speech, the government plans to provide health cover of Rs 5 lakh per family to 100 million families in India, which is about 50 crore people or 40 per cent of the population.
G Srinivasan, CMD, New India Assurance (NIA) and chairman of the General Insurance Council, the official representative of the general insurers and Alice Vaidyan, CMD, GIC Re along with the officials of other state owned and private sector general insurers attended first ever meeting called by the Health Ministry over NHPS. “The government wants to start the scheme at the earliest and wants our suggestions about the implementation of this mega scheme. We didn’t discuss about the possible premiums per policy. This was a preliminary level meeting all of us had,’’ said the CMD of a public sector general insurance company, adding that government officials indicated that the scheme will be expanded afterwards to include more segments of population.
NHPS will be part of Centre’s Ayushman Bharat Yojana. The Niti Aayog, which is a policy think tank of the government, has calculated an outgo of Rs 10,000-12,000 crore a year for the Central government and is confident of successful implementation with the low premiums it hopes to get from insurance firms.
Manoj Jhalani, 1987 batch MP cadre IAS officer, currently serving as Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been given additional charge and designated as Mission Director of Ayushman Bharat. Kerala cadre IAS officer Dinesh Arora (2002 batch) has also been appointed Director for Ayushman Bharat Scheme in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.