PM Narendra Modi to Launch World's Largest Health Insurance Scheme Today from Jharkhand

PM Narendra Modi to Launch World's Largest Health Insurance Scheme Today from Jharkhand

Around 57 lakh families in Jharkhand and 1.8 crore families in Bihar will be covered under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan (PM-JAY).


Alok Kumar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Sunday launch his government's ambitious national health protection mission, now renamed as Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan (PM-JAY) from Prabhat Tara ground in Ranchi, Jharkhand. The scheme aims to provide a coverage of Rs five lakh per family annually, benefiting more than 10 crore poor families.

He is expected to reach the Birsa Munda airport at 12.25pm using an Indian air force plane. From there he will take a helicopter ride to reach the Prabhat Tara Maidan, where he will inaugurate what is being called the world's largest health insurance exercise.

Initially, the PM was to implement the scheme — then called Ayushman Bharat — from Red Fort during his Independence Day speech. But after much brainstorming, Ayushman Bharat was renamed as Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna.

PM-JAY's implementing body, National Health Agency (NHA), has uploaded details of 10.74 crore families, covering approximately 50 crore citizens who would be entitled to free and cashless medical facilities up to Rs 5 lakh per year for over 1,350 diseases in more than 10,000 private and government hospitals. The government aims to increase the number of hospitals to 20,000.

Every covered hospital will have an ‘Ayushman Mitra’ who will assist in the seamless processing of paperwork for the person seeking treatment. More than Eight crore rural families and two crore urban poor families are expected to benefit from the scheme. The entitlement is based on Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data of 2011.

It is estimated to cost Rs, 12,000 crore when the scheme would be fully operational from Septmeber25, the birth anniversary of Deendayal Upadhyay. The Centre and States would bear the cost in 60-40 ratio.

Benefits and challenges

Around 57 lakh families in Jharkhand and 1.8 crore families in Bihar will be covered under the scheme. The union government had indentified 25 lakh families in Jharkhand but Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das added another 32 lakh and agreed to bear the additional cost of Rs 540 crore.

The Jharkhand government has signed an MOU with National Insurance Company which will provide up to one lakh rupees while reimbursing the claims, and if needed, another four lakh would be reimbursed by Rajya Arogya Samiti, especially constituted for the purpose.

Under the scheme people will be able seek free treatment in 210 hospitals in the state, the state's health department said, adding that another 338 private hospitals have applied for the empanelment. Bihar's health minister Mangal Pandey said that around 1.8 crore families in the state will be covered under PM-JAY, out of which 99.58 lakh live in rural areas. The state government has formed 'Bihar Swasthya Suraksha Samiti' as a nodal agency to implement the scheme.

A total of 643 health wellness centres will also be opened to provide maximum benefits to the entitled persons, Pandey said. So far only 44 such centres have come up.

However, implementing the scheme effectively would be a mammoth task for Bihar and Jharkhand as both the states are facing an acute shortage of health infrastructure. On an average, a government hospital bed caters to 8,789 people in Bihar. In Jharkhand, the ratio stands at 6,502:1.

There are only 6712 doctors for more than 10 crore population in Bihar. Recently, 1,357 new posts of doctors were created but only 195 turned up to join the duty. Last year, 534 posts of medical officers for the state's Primary Health Centres remained vacant.

On paper, there are 36 district hospitals, 44 sub divisional hospitals, 70 referral hospitals, 533 PHCs and 1350 additional PHCs in Bihar. A shortage of medicines in these hospitals would also prove a big challenge.

The situation is much worse in naxal and jungle-infested Jharkhand where at least 994 specialised doctors are required against the present strength of 45.  1,015 health centres out of designated 1538 centres are still under-construction.

The state government has provided only 256 ambulances for the state's 3.25 crore population against at least one ambulance per one lakh population ratio mentioned in the health policy.

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