Ayushman Bharat Diwas is celebrated across the country on April 30 each year. The day was observed for the first time on April, 30 2018. Ayushman Bharat is a flagship scheme of the Government that was launched to achieve the vision of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
UHC is a health care system in which all residents of a particular country or region are given access to health care.
Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY is the largest health assurance scheme in the world which aims at providing a health cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization, to over 10.74 crores poor and vulnerable families that form about 40% of India’s population.
The state of poverty and health are correlated. Here are some figures from the 71st Round of National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) that show the realities of the healthcare system in India.
1. 85.9% of rural households and 82% of urban households do not have access to health care insurance schemes.
2. More than 17% of the Indian population spends at least 10% of their total income on health-related expenditures.
3. An alarming rate of the population – 24% in rural and 18% of urban India – borrow money to meet their health expenditure.
Many people in the country are so poor that they lack good quality healthcare that impacts their performance at schools, workplaces and everyday life.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals of 2015 proposes to enhance universal healthcare facilities. Even the National Health Policy of 2017 mentions an increase in the health coverage across the country.
It is due to this that the Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Scheme was launched. It includes PM Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) and Health and Wellness Centres.
Under PM-JAY, only those individuals who are poor, landless, bonded labour and who have an income level below a threshold, will benefit under this scheme.
The benefits under this scheme include treatment up to Rs 5 Lakhs/ family. However, the number of family members hasn’t been capped.
The treatment can be availed at secondary and tertiary hospitals. Around 10 crore families are eligible to enroll for this scheme.
What are the problems and challenges with this scheme:
Firstly, either due to genuine reasons or political ones many states haven’t signed up for the scheme. Chhattisgarh and West Bengal have refused to implement the scheme. Delhi only signed up for it in March 2020.
Other states such as Karnataka, Kerala and Telangana have their own insurance schemes that are more than what is being offered by PM-AB.
Secondly, despite multiple warnings, many private hospitals are cheating the patients and not giving them benefits of the scheme, yet claiming benefits from the insurance companies.
The government should ensure that the loopholes in the scheme are fixed so that more people benefit from this scheme.