'Ayushman Bharat' a big step towards healthcare for all

The 'Ayushman Bharat Programme' or National Health Protection Scheme announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget 2018 will provide Rs5 lakh cover will be provided a year to 10 crore poor and vulnerable people in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his covering speech after the Budget presentation, said the scheme will help 10 crore poor families, or 40 to 50 crore individuals.

This scheme to be funded by the government is the biggest health insurance scheme in the world, he said.

Indian families who will be provided Rs5 lakh cover per family annually for treatment. This means each family covered under the new scheme would be entitled to get medical reimbursement for treatment at hospitals up to a maximum of Rs5 lakh per year.

It may be noted that Jaitley had announced the scheme in his 2016 Budget speech, but the proposal is lying with the Union Cabinet since November 2016. It was also repeated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech that same year.

In addition to this, Jaitley announced Rs1,200 crore for the 1.5 lakh wellness centres in the country.

He also announced Rs600 crore for nutritional support of tuberculosis patients in India. Under the initiative, Rs500 a month will be provided to each TB patient undergoing treatment.