Ayushman Bharat | India is concerned with many health issues be it malnutrition, infant mortality, rising noncommunicable diseases, increasing out of pocket health expenditure, lowering credibility and ethos in private health sectors etc. The NATIONAL HEALTH PROTECTION SCHEME or the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme is the step in the right direction to give impetus to healthcare in India. It aims to roll out comprehensive primary health care with Health and Wellness Centers (HWCs) serving as the people-centric nuclei.
- It aims to provide health cover of 5 lakh per family per year for hospitalization in secondary and tertiary care facilities.
- In one go, 40% of people will have access to facility care for almost all the medical and surgical conditions.
- The programme will cover half a billion people and would align with what the State governments are providing. Many State governments would extend the benefits to additional beneficiaries through their own resources.
- This mission enables increased access to in-patient health care for the poor and lower middle class. The access to health care will be cashless and nationally portable.
- The scheme will replace RASHTRIYA SWASTHYA BIMA YOJANA under which the government provided Rs.30,000 annually for healthcare.
- This will bring healthcare system closer to the homes of people.
- The new program would be a vast expansion of health coverage, allowing people to visit the country’s many private hospitals for needs.
- The amount of Rs 5 lakh per family is a massive. The amount is 17 times bigger than the RSBY scheme and will cover 40% of India’s population.
- Though it improved access to health care, it did not reduce out-of-pocket expenditure, catastrophic health expenditure and health payment-induced poverty.
- The NHPS addresses these concerns by sharply raising the coverage cap but not covering outpatient care which accounts for the largest fraction of OOPE.
- Universal health insurance through private hospitals has not worked for the poor anywhere. There is no substitute for public health care.
- India is plagued by increasing levels of water and air pollution, some of it worsened by pro-business policies. Malnutrition, poor sanitation and lack of proper housing also remain major problems.
- Though RSBY targeted 5.9 crore families, yet managed to enrol 3.6 crore families. Thus, the government’s announcement today of reaching ten crore families is also too ambitious.
The public healthcare needs to be strengthened especially in rural areas. The government needs to provide adequate funding to improve the quality of services as well. NHPS requires a high level of cooperative federalism, both to make the scheme viable and to ensure portability of coverage as people cross State borders. In-patient hospitalization expenditure in India has increased nearly 300% during last ten years. Out of pocket expenditure in India is over 60% which leads to nearly 6 million families getting into poverty due to catastrophic health expenditures. In these scenarios Ayushman Bharat can prove to be a game changer. -A better health, better INDIA.