Ayushman Bharat

The government is planning to rope in domain experts from within and outside the country to ensure a smooth rollout and monitoring of ‘Ayushman Bharat’, its ambitious health insurance scheme for the poor.

Niti Aayog, the government’s premier think tank, will come out with guidelines for setting up the project monitoring unit for Ayushman Bharat, also known as National Health Protection Scheme.

According to the official, the government does not have the wherewithal to recruit the right talent for a programme of such scale. “Hence, the need for a PMU, which could hire both national and international experts to oversee the programme’s rollout,” the official said.

Ayushman Bharat, popularly known as ‘Modicare’, is billed as the world’s largest government-funded healthcare scheme. Under it, the government aims to cover over 100 million poor and vulnerable families (about 500 million beneficiaries) with up to .₹5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

The government will also set up 150,000 health and wellness centres across the country by 2022 to provide primary health care.

The PMU is likely to be responsible for programme management, IEC and media, information technology and monitoring and evaluation of the programme.

The government is of the view that a dedicated unit with persons having right skill sets will ensure success of the programme. General elections are due in the country next year, and the BJP-led NDA government is hoping to woo voters with welfare initiatives such as Ayushman Bharat.

NHPS will be an entitlement based scheme with the entitlement decided on the basis of deprivation criteria in the SECC (socioeconomic and caste census) database. The beneficiaries can avail of the benefits in both public and empanelled private facilities.

As per an initial estimate, the programme will cost about .₹10,000 crore, with the share of the central government being about .₹4,000-5,000 crore and the rest being borne by the states at an estimated premium of .₹1,000-1,200.

The benefits under the scheme are portable across the country and a beneficiary will be allowed to take cashless treatment from all public/private empanelled hospitals across the country.

The scheme has already been approved by the Cabinet and the government wants to roll it out as early as possible.

In a first step, it launched a health and wellness centre under Ayushman Bharat in Bijapur, Chattisgarh last week.

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