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Modicare: A step towards the universal health coverage

File Picture Courtesy : zeenews.india.com
File Picture Courtesy: zeenews.india.com
While presenting the Union Budget 2018, the Finance Minister introduced the National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries). It is stated that the scheme under Ayushman Bharat Programme will provide coverage up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation in India. The government claims that the scheme will be the world’s largest government-funded health care programme. Though, it’s not the first scheme to cater poor households. The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) was rolled out with such objective but in a limited capacity.

Inspired by Obamacare, experts and news media dubbed the new scheme as Modicare. It grabbed attention from various hues ranging from the political parties to international institutions. Many of them questioned its financial feasibility and labeled it as a populist measure launched to woo the voters in 2019. Though the government sources reiterate that it’s very important instrument to deal with the most pressing problems like reducing the out-of-pocket expenses.

As the National Health Policy, 2017 is being rolled out in India after debate and deliberations. There is a striking similarity.  In this backdrop, Kali Charan Saraf, Health Minister of Rajasthan threw light on the common thread. As the Rajasthan Government rolled out the Bhamashah Swasthya Bima Yojana(BSBY) in 2015 with collective aims of improving the health indicators and reducing the out-of-pocket expenses of the poor household in Rajasthan.
On being asked about if the union  government had held a discussion on this scheme with the state before its announcement, Saraf reportedly said that when the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, J.P. Nadda, was in Rajasthan about seven months ago, “We had updated him of this scheme as it was running quite successfully in the state”.
As the Union Government set to introduce the scheme comprehensively in India. There is a need to shed light on the operational aspect of the BSBY and its innovative approaches to deal with a crumbled state capacity.
Modus Operandi of the BSBY:
The Government of Rajasthan rolled out the Bhamashah Swasthya Bima Yojana in 2015. It is a scheme to provide cashless facility to the identified families covered under National Food Security Act (NFSA) and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) through an Insurance Company “New India Assurance Company” on a fixed premium per family per year on floater basis.
Newly anointed National health protection Scheme will provide Hospitalisation cover to over 10 Crore poor and vulnerable families. It’s estimated that the Scheme will come at a significant cost. With insurance premiums estimated at Rs. 1,100-1,200 (US$18) per household per year, the full programme could cost up to Rs. 12,000 crore (US$1.87 billion) as projected by researchers.

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