Topper in health insurance scheme

Healthcare budget 2018 focuses on Universal Health Coverage making healthcare more accessible

Finance Minister Thomas Isaac while welcoming the national health insurance scheme announced in the union budget on Thursday, expressed apprehensions about the criteria being adopted by the Centre for finalising beneficiaries.

Admitting as much, Dr. Isaac said the Centre's new announcement of a Rs. 5-lakh coverage each for 10 crore families had upstaged the core proposal that was to be unveiled in his Budget 2018-19. "It is a cashless scheme, but if families have problems that are above the premium we pay the difference through a special corpus fund of ₹35 crore". We are working on the nitty-gritties. There are many models which we are going to work out.

JP Nadda, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, and the Niti Aayog reiterated that this scheme shall not be stalled due to financial constraints and that implementation is key.

He said the government is committed to roll out this programme. We have made all arrangements for it.

What this scheme will do is to ensure a ready market for private players in the sector, who will charge the government a lofty premium.

The officials, relying on the premium per household that states such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, or Tamil Nadu pay for their existing health-protection schemes, estimate that the national scheme could cost about Rs 12,000 crore. Rs. 1,200 crore to be allocated for this programme - Focus on maternal & child health & non communicable diseases.

It is a nationwide health insurance scheme that would cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families by providing an insurance coverage of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary hospitalization.

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The idea of coordinated action was first mooted by chief economic adviser in the finance ministry Arvind Subramanian in his latest Economic Survey, where he said that the GST Council shows that cooperative federalism is a "technology" for reforms in several other areas.

The government has not yet made any allocations for the scheme. Experts believe that states will be in a predicament because of their tight fiscal position and reluctance to replace their own health schemes with this newly announced National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS).

The health minister said there were a lot of operational problems in the earlier scheme which have been rectified in the present one. The scheme would be launched on October 2, and the Centre hopes to cover 50 per cent of the beneficiaries by next year, depending on states' acceptance.

"It is not only an insurance. And the most important is that we have been able to take care of the expenditure for the medical treatment", Sangma added. That is why I am not saying now. We will come up with a full programme.

The Health Minister also said that district hospitals will be upgraded as medical colleges and the government had identified blocks where district hospitals would be converted to medical colleges.

He said no specific date for the roll out has been fixed as yet, but it will be done "very soon".

Aayushman Bharat programme: 1.5 lakh centres will be set up to provide health facilities closer to home.

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