The Government launched Ayushman Bharat, about six months ago, aiming to provide 500 million families with health insurance of Rs five lakh annually for medical care. Those qualified are the weakest sections of the population.
In spite of rapid economic growth over the last twenty years, medical care is still out of reach for many of the poor. Even though consultation in government hospitals is mostly free, patients have to pay for medical treatment, which is expensive and can push a poor family into debt.
Dr Guleria, director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi said, “It is early days, but this is a game-changer. “Hospital treatment is an impossible cost for the poor – even for sections of the middle class. It’s a godsend to those who would have been kept at home by their families and left to die.”
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley commented that 62% of the population have to pay healthcare bills themselves and most find it unaffordable. As per official data, above 20.3 million people have been eligible for the scheme and about 1.4 million have received free treatment.
The government is doing its best to inform the public about the scheme, even in the remotest villages, including posters and banners at railway stations.