India plans on launching the world’s biggest healthcare program.
As national elections loom in for India, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the world’s biggest healthcare program on Sunday, aiming to provide free health services to half a billion poor people.
The announcement was well received with doctors and economists, but concerns remain over awareness and funding – and whether the scheme has been rushed out as an election crowd-pleaser.
With plans being announced, those living below the poverty line in India will no longer have to pay a single rupee for private hospital treatments, that, until now, would have pushed such families into crippling debt.
Under Modicare, the name this healthcare program was given, the 100 million lowest income families in the country will receive $7,800 in yearly health insurance for hospital treatments.
According to The Independent, officially titled Ayushman Bharat, Modicare will be provided in two strands. The first is a pledge to revamp 150,000 smaller doctors surgeries and community health centres into better-resourced, government-regulated “health and wellness centres”. Mr Modi will cut the ribbon on 10 of these new centres during his Jharkhand visit this weekend.
The second and more transformative pledge aims to plug the gap between India’s hugely overcrowded and understaffed public hospitals and the sleeker, at times state-of-the-art private sector hospitals that make up a staggering 70% of the country’s total spending on health.
Families who are entitled to the scheme will receive a letter from the prime minister and a “gold card” that they can use to claim in-patient care at any registered hospital in the country.