Ayushman Bharat: the big budget scheme

Lakhs of families borrow or sell assets to receive inpatient treatment and the government is concerned about the consequent “impoverishment of poor and vulnerable families”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while announcing the 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. Coverage of up to ₹5 lakh a family a year will be provided for secondary- and tertiary-care hospitalisation. These two, he explained, were part of the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ programme to address health holistically, in primary, secondary and tertiary care system, covering both prevention and health promotion.

Top executives in the healthcare and insurance industry hailed the initiatives. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance MD and CEO Tapan Singhel said people in countries that provided higher health insurance cover had a higher life expectancy. Apollo Hospitals vice-chairman Preetha Reddy described the Scheme as “nothing short of path-breaking,” while Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories chairman Satish Reddy said Ayushman Bharat was a “game changer”.

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