This lucrative scheme announced by the BJP led government at the centre, under the able leadership of Shri Narendra Modi took wings in the union budget presented for the year 2018. This is a pan India covering national health scheme. The scheme is actually drafted keeping in mind, the reach out to almost ten crore poor and unprivileged families.
Provisions of the National Health Protection Scheme
As per the provisions of the scheme, the government is committed to provide a substantial coverage of five lakh rupees per family. Keeping in mind an approximate number of five members per family, the scheme is expected to pool in and reach out to almost 50 crore beneficiaries. The scheme can be reimbursed by poorer sections of society for their secondary level and tertiary line of treatments , but only in case of hospitalisation.
The main idea behind providing support to secondary & tertiary level treatment in case of hospitalisation is the huge bill amount incurred in a general case. Usually, health care expenditures incurred for an in-patient treatment due to hospitalisation is quite huge and in most cases, not reachable to the lower strata of society.
Hence, these families can seek coverage under this scheme and avail direct benefits instead of having to worry about paying from their pockets in a hospitalisation scenario. Quite naturally, this scheme is being considered as the largest of its kind, a health protection scheme that is largest in the world.
The Modi government tried to show their solidarity and concern towards poverty stricken families by giving them help in the form of a good insurance coverage scheme. The scheme popularly known as the “Ayushman Bharat Health Scheme”. Keeping universal healthcare in mind, Mr. Modi aimed to benefit the poorer section of society with this scheme.
It is a fully government sponsored scheme, so can be easily called the largest of its kind in the world. This scheme is also aimed at providing better healthcare facilities to women, children and senior citizens as providing coverage to them is a sensitive issue at various levels of society. So, in public hospitals and listed set of private hospitals, a patient can directly get treatment from the insurance without having to spend even a penny from his pocket.
The aspect of universal health in this scheme is related to the big reach out aimed under this scheme. The government has not declared any upper limit for the number of members in a family that can take in the benefits. So, considering the above factors and the fact that never had there been any such government scheme that catered universally to pan India, this scheme can surely become very famous and helpful to the poorer sections of our country.
Funding provisions for the scheme
The earlier version of the Ayushman Bharat Health Scheme can be very easily traced to Rashtriya Swastya Bima Yojana. In other words, the Ayushman Bharat Scheme actually replaced the Rashtriya Swastya Bima Yojana.
The new universal scheme brings under its net, a whopping 40% of the current population as direct beneficiaries of the scheme. Let us now understand the funding method being adopted for this scheme. On a general basis, the annual union budget sets aside a certain percentage of the budget as an expenditure for healthcare.
But in this budget, in the total amount set aside as budget for healthcare had different inclusions within it. In other words, a part of the budget is set aside as the insurance product or investment in insurance .
That directly means, snatching away a very important part of the healthcare budget and diverting it towards the insurance scheme. Had it been an additional allocation by the government, apart from the normal healthcare budget, then more sense would have crept in terms of universal health and general health and well being of society.
Around 1200 crores is the first and initial amount invested under the national health protection scheme. To make up for the additional requirements of the scheme, the educational and healthcare charges have been increased by one percent. So, this additional money shall be later pooled in and listed as an investment for this scheme.
Volunteers willing to send in their contributions and donations for the scheme are also encouraged. Philanthropic Organisations and Contributions from corporate social responsibility (CSR) facets of private companies and big IT giants are also welcome.
Executional hierarchy of the scheme
This scheme is completely funded by the central government as part of its budget allocation in the previous year 2018. What is interesting to note is that, all the BJP ruled states readily accepted the scheme and began collecting data and necessary prerequisites and requirements to submit to the central authority. By the months of September or October when it was expected to take off, the states were also expected to swing in to serious business immediately.
The outlay of the hierarchy structures is presented here. At the centre, the authority to look after necessary funding and budget shall meet the investment expenses. The data for the same is to be collected by individual state governments and submitted to the centre. This is a no premium insurance policy and calls for registration by individual beneficiaries or head of family representatives listing out their full family dependent.
Populism Vs Welfare Debate
When any new scheme with a massive reach out is tabled in the union budget, it comes up with its own set of argument and debates. On one hand, there are a set of thinking minds that call this scheme as a boon for the economically weaker sections of the society. On the other hand, there is a section of society that thinks against it, in terms of its useful implementation.
Prima Facie, the scheme appears to be a great helping hand to the underprivileged pockets of the nation. Due to healthcare being expensive and inaccessible to economically weaker sections of society, death rates among them is generally high compared to other sections of society. So to balance this issue, to uplift the weaker sections of society and provide quality healthcare to all sections in a universal manner, this scheme is actually a boon.
But on the flip side, the point that it is indirectly going to garner and promote business among insurance companies especially private players makes things look bleak. In hindsight, for the citizens of this country, this scheme is a welfare seeking scheme and aimed at better universal healthcare for all sections of the country.
The scheme not only aims at poorer and weaker section of society. Gradually, it aims to include the lower middle class groups, middle class and upper middle class groups and also the upper strata of society in terms of higher rate of job creation.
To provide a silver lining on the cloud brings healthcare to the doors of many poor sections of the country. Effective implementation of the scheme and ensuring a smooth centre states participation is mandatory to create effective outcomes from the scheme.