Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has announced two new initiatives under the Ayushman Bharat Program in the Union Budget 2018.

Under the program, Mr. Jaitley announced a new Flagship National Health Protection Scheme, providing health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per year. The Scheme will cover 10 crore vulnerable families, with approximately 50 crore beneficiaries.

“We are slowly progressing towards universal health coverage,” Jaitley said in his speech, adding that the Scheme will be the “world’s largest healthcare program”.

Jaitley also announced the creation of Health and Wellness centers, which will “bring healthcare closer to home”. These centers, 1.5 lakh in number, will provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services.

Rs. 1200 crores have been allocated for this.

Milind Kothari, Managing Partner, Head-Tax and Regulatory services, BDO India said, “The announcement in the area of healthcare is clearly path-breaking for the sheer size, coverage and the amount committed per family. This ushers India firmly in the next generation of social security as India moves aggressively towards a progressive developing economy.”  - The Hindu 

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