Insurance for 10 crore families

Insurance for 10 crore families

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley  announced a massive health insurance scheme that seeks to cover 10 crore families from the poor and vulnerable sections of the society.

The scheme will also  provide a family health insurance cover of Rs  5 lakh per year for diseases that require stay in hospital.

However,  a similar scheme, announced in the Budget two years ago, is yet to be implemented.

Jaitley also announced a Rs 1,200-crore package to convert 1.5 lakh primary health care centres and sub-centres into 'Health and Wellness' centres.

The two schemes, he said, would generate "lakhs of jobs", particularly for women.

Jaitley said the flagship health protection scheme will cover more than 10 crore families, which means 50 crore beneficiaries.

"This will be the world's largest government-funded healthcare programme. Adequate funds will be provided for its smooth implementation," he said.

The minister  didn't mention any specific allocation, but the outlay for Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) was upped to Rs 2,000 crore from last year's revised estimate of Rs 470 crore.

In the last fiscal, RSBY's budgetary allocation was Rs 1,000 crore, but the initial outlay was cut drastically in later months.

The announcement of  the  mega scheme comes in the backdrop of an unfulfilled promise of hiking the RSBY limit up to Rs  1 lakh (from Rs 30,000) for a family.

It was announced by Jaitley in his 2016-17 budget speech, but the scheme is still stuck within the government.

Jaitley invited contribution from the corporate sector  - through the corporate social responsibility route  - and private philanthropic outfits to adopt the 'Health and Welness' centres.

These centres will provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services  and care for non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart complications, as well as mother-and-child services.

Rs 600 crore has been earmarked to provide a monthly stipend of Rs 500 to every  tuberculosis patient for their nutritional support.

A meagre overall increase in the health budget, however, upset public health workers.

"A mere 11.5% increase in the budgetary allocations for health from last year's Rs 47,353 crore  to Rs 52,800 crores now is disappointing and discouraging,"  said Poonam Muttreja, executive director, Population Foundation of India.

"There is promise  for a  comprehensive health care. However, implementation challenges lie in expanding the size and skill of the workforce needed for primary health care and in creating the states' capacity to efficiently manage strategic purchasing of secondary and tertiary care," said K Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation of India.

 

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