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Mega health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat runs out of money, asks Finance Ministry for additional funds

Sources in the NHA said most of the money has been spent on initial operations already but asserted that money will not be a problem in ensuring successful implementation of the programme.

Published: 02nd October 2018 11:47 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd October 2018 12:10 AM   |  A+A-

PM Narendra Modi launches Ayushman Bharat in Ranchi. (File | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A mega scheme launched recently by the Narendra Modi government to ensure that about 50 crore Indians are saved for catastrophic healthcare expenditure, has reached out to the Union Finance Ministry after running out of the initially allocated money.

National Health Agency, which has been tasked to implement Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana has asked the Finance Ministry to allocate additional Rs 4,500 crore for the remaining fiscal of 2018-19 after using Rs 2,000 crore that was allocated for the programme in the budget this year.

Sources in the NHA said most of the money has been spent on initial operations already but asserted that money will not be a problem in ensuring successful implementation of the programme.

"We have already sent the revised estimate to the Finance Ministry and are now waiting for their approval," said a senior NHA official.

The government's new National Health Protection Scheme, under
Ayushman Bharat plan, will cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable 

families. (EPS Photo)

"We are facing some teething trouble but the government is determined to ensure that fund crunch is not an issue in this ambitious scheme." The scheme is meant to provide cashless hospitalisation worth up to Rs 5 lakh to 50 crore Indians with low socioeconomic status and was launched by Modi on September 23.

Since the scheme was announced in February this year, many health economists have pointed out that the allocation meant for the comprehensive health insurance scheme is not adequate enough.

An analysis published in Indian Journal of Community Medicine by community medicine specialists Harsh Bakshi, Rashmi Sharma and Pradeep Kumar, "Ayushman Bharat Initiative (2018): What we Stand to Gain or Lose",too, noted that allocation for the scheme is not sufficient.

"In the current scenario, the annual premium of AB NHPS (the scheme was called Ayushman Bharat- National Health Protection Scheme earlier) would be around Rs. 2000 per family to start with and would entail an expenditure of Rs. 20,000 crores (@ Rs. 2000 per family for 10 crore family)," the paper said.

"Yet, another estimate from Niti Aayog puts this annual requirement at Rs. 10,000 crores."

"Even though the scheme is based on cooperative federalism and the costs would be shared between Centre and states, the government should have allocated the required amount-at least Rs 6,000 crore-before launching the scheme," said a public health expert with the New Delhi based Public Health Foundation of India.

"The government had imposed health cess starting this year which was expected to generate about Rs 10,000 crore but where is that money?" he asked.



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