The Union Budget of India for 2018-2019 has many schemes on health issues.
A scheme which primarily stood out was the Ayushman Bharat Health scheme also known as National Health Protection Scheme. It aims to provide adequate healthcare for 10 crore poor and vulnerable families, or around 50 crore individuals. The Government seeks to achieve this by providing a coverage of 5 lakhs per family for secondary and tertiary hospitalization. From the previous allocation of Rs 30,000, it is a significant boost to ensure health access and affordability to the unserved millions. It is said to be the world’s largest government funded healthcare programme.
The scheme would also allocate Rs. 1,200 Crore for Health and wellness centres. The number of beneficiaries will be based on data collected through a system known as Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC). According to the statistics, 99 million Indians require coverage under scheme, which is double the amount of citizen’s healthcare which the scheme seeks to cover. But, the Government with this scheme, hopes to reach out to all its citizens.
The Finance Minister also proposed to raise deduction under health insurance premium to Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh for senior citizens with critical illnesses, along with the allocation of additional funds under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana(RSBY).
Although, the health coverage is large, a closer examination of the insurance premiums that may be necessary to fund the government program shows the wide disparity. The premiums said to be given to a family is five lakhs but after deducting various taxes, the end amount is only 14 thousand. If that is as anything to go by, the government will need at least Rs 1,25,000 crore before it can commit a Rs 5 lakh cover to ten crore families.
Activists are however critical of the allocation of funds for healthcare. For example, The new National Health Protection Scheme has an allocation of Rs. 2,000 crore. This is a nominal gesture of Rs. 40 per capita compared to around Rs. 4,000 per capita required for Universal Health Care. The National Health Protection Scheme is just another modified version of the RSBY which has existed since 2008. To be able to achieve the public healthcare expenditure objectives of the National Health Policy, there is a need for an annual rise of 40 per cent in government health expenditure, but the budget shows an increase of only 12 per cent.
The scheme has several benefits. For example, the push to grow the health coverage is likely to upon to venture up demand for medicines thereby benefiting pharmaceutical companies. The Union Budget for 2018 also has a few recommendations which can likewise prompt advancement and innovation of medicines. These incorporate infra advancement, health plans and more medical universities bringing about more specialists endorsing the correct medications.
The massive scale of the scheme is expected to boost demand and supply of medicines, surgeries, etc. in rural areas. It is speculated that the increase in health coverage will motivate private medical companies to establish their hospitals in the rural and poor areas of India. The proposition for 10 crore families may likewise make treatment of cardiac issues and oncology reasonable to a large segment of the general public. Ergo, intricate surgeries would now be available within villages and not cities.
In Conclusion, while this may be the biggest resource allocation for health schemes in the history of India, people belonging to lower classes and strata of society are bound to reap its benefits. To make sure the scheme reaches the proposed 10 crore families, the Government has to ensure efficient implementation and allocation of its resources.
Ganesh Bhaskar lata, the author, is a Second Year B.A., LL.B. Student at Jindal Global Law School.
Featured image source: Health on a budget