The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government is facing difficulties in launching its ambitious health insurance scheme that aims to provide coverage to around 50 crore people for secondary and tertiary care. In the Budget for 2018-19, the government had announced the Ayushman Bharat scheme and reportedly planned to launch it in August this year. But just one month ahead of the proposed launch, the government is still working on roping in hospitals and insurance companies for the purpose, Bloomberg reported. The beneficiaries covered under the scheme, which number more than the entire population of South America, will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public or private empaneled hospital in the country.
Although the beneficiaries have been identified and the IT infrastructure has been put in place, the involvement of hospitals – both public and private – and that of insurers was still to be finalized, Indu Bhushan, Chief Executive Officer of the government’s project told Bloomberg. Bhushan said that the private sector plays an important role in effective implementation of the scheme. “If we have to provide services to such a large number of people, we cannot do it without the private sector. We do not have that kind of healthcare capacity in the government sector,” he was quoted as saying. However, he hoped the program would be ready to launch on the scheduled date. Another hurdle in the process of rolling out the scheme is the prevalent political climate in India.
States that do not have a BJP government at their helms are reluctant to implement the scheme because of their opposition of Modi and the existence of their own insurance schemes. The next issue in effective implementation of the scheme would be the lack of upgraded health facilities, dated equipment, and staff in rural areas, which account for a majority of the people covered by the scheme. The Ayushman Bharat scheme is expected to be launched by PM Modi on Independence Day (August 15). – Money Control