Towards Affordable Healthcare
Hard Statistics reveal that India’s flagship health programme “Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)” is implemented in 33 States/UTs. The scheme is implemented in convergence with over 20 State specific schemes. Co-branded Ayushman Card is issued to the eligible beneficiaries supported by Centre and State in all the 33 States/UTs. As of 09th March 2023, a total of 23.19 crore Ayushman cards have been created against the verified beneficiaries and over 4.44 crore hospital admissions worth Rs. 53,350.20 crore have been authorized through a network of 25,969 empaneled healthcare providers including 11,700 private hospitals.
AB-PMJAY is the world’s largest health protection scheme which provides health coverage of Rs. 5 lakh per beneficiary family per annum to over 60 crore beneficiaries identified on the basis of select deprivation, and occupational criteria, in rural and urban areas respectively, as per SECC database of 2011. The scheme is designed to provide financial risk protection against catastrophic health expenditure and is implemented in insurance or trust or mixed mode as decided by State/UT.
Under Ayushman Bharat –Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs), comprehensive need-based healthcare services covering maternal and child health services and non-communicable diseases, including free essential drugs and diagnostic services are provided free of cost to all citizens of the country. AB-PMJAY offers a unique feature of portability to its beneficiaries which allows eligible beneficiaries to avail healthcare services (as per defined packages) in any empaneled hospital across the country.
In such States/UTs where AB-PMJAY is not implemented, National Health Authority has directly empaneled hospitals so that the beneficiaries under the scheme can avail healthcare facilities even in those States. Further, beneficiaries of State schemes which have been converged with AB-PMJAY, are also eligible to avail healthcare services in any empaneled hospital across the country under the portability feature of the scheme. As of 13th March 2023, approximately 5.99 lakh hospital admissions worth Rs. 1393 crore have been authorized under the portability feature.
In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stated that making healthcare affordable has been the topmost priority of the Union Government. “The rationale behind providing free treatment up to Rs. 5 lakhs through the Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY initiative was to save around Rs 80,000 crore of hard-earned money that would have otherwise been spent on medical expenditure”, he stated recently, adding “Tomorrow, as India celebrates Jan Aushadhi Diwas, it is pertinent to note that there are approximately 9,000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras across the country supplying medicines at highly affordable rates. These Jan Aushadhi Kendras have saved an additional Rs. 20,000 crores of poor and middle-class families in India”.
The Prime Minister has underlined the government’s commitment to bring modern healthcare infrastructure and facilities closer to people. As a result, there are over 1.5 lakh Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres all over India which offer screening facilities for diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart ailments. Through PM-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM), critical health infrastructure is being established in small towns and cities.
Admittedly, the Modi government is ensuring that through its various initiatives, not only new hospitals are established but a health ecosystem is being created which are opening more opportunities for health entrepreneurs, investors and professionals.
In the last few years, over 260 medical colleges have been established which simultaneously led to two-fold increase in the number of medical graduate and post-graduate seats since 2014. To similarly enhance the number of trained technicians in the country, this year’s budget lays focus on establishing 157 new nursing colleges in close vicinity to existing medical colleges in the country.
Prime Minister Modi has emphasized the need to capitalize on the success of India’s pharma sector. India has earned the trust and confidence of the world during COVID19 pandemic as “Pharmacy of the World”. In fact, a new programme is being launched to boost research and innovation in the pharma sector through Centres of Excellence which will strengthen the economy as well as create new opportunities for employment. He stressed the need to find coordination between the private sector and academia as it has the potential to grow the market size beyond 10 lakh crores.