Within 24 hours of launch around thousand people lined up for treatment under Ayushman Bharat—Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY). On the day of the inauguration of the scheme by Prime Minister at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi, 20 people were treated under the scheme. The first child born after the launch of the scheme was a girl. “When we started the pilot of AB-PMJAY in Haryana, the first baby was also a girl named Karishma. We named her Ayushman Devi, inspired by the scheme’s name. This is really heartening that the first baby, after the formal launch of the scheme, is also a girl. Our government is promoting the girl child in a big way and this event is in tune with that,” said Union health minister J.P. Nadda.
Under Modicare, The people will be treated in private hospitals under this new scheme but the government will provide money for treatment from the 5 lakh health insurance covers which 10 crore needy families will be availing. Besides the insurance cover, the government will create 1, 50,000 health and wellness centers across the country. The wellness centers which includes Sub-centers, Primary Health Centers (PHC) and Community health centers (CHC) are the first line of contact for primary health care for the citizens of the country. The families which will benefit from the scheme will be identified from Socio-economic and caste (SECC), 2011 data. “The government has sent a two-page customized letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to 4 million beneficiaries explaining the importance and benefits of the scheme,” said an official from ministry of health and family welfare.
Many national and international organizations have praised the scheme. “The prime minister has grasped the importance of health not only as a natural right of citizens, but also as a political instrument to meet the growing expectations of India’s emerging middle class,” said Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the ‘The Lancet’, oldest and most respected medical journal in the world. He, however, was critical of Rahul Gandhi, and said the Congress chief was “yet to match Modicare”. “Rahul Gandhi seeking to resurrect the Congress and prove that India’s greatest political dynasty still has something to offer, despite his promises to help lower castes, tribal communities and rural poor, is yet to match Modicare,” added Horton.
According to the draft of National Health Policy, “Over 63 million people are faced with poverty every year due to healthcare costs alone. It is because there is no financial protection for the vast majority of healthcare needs.” The poor and needy have to sell their assets like jewelry in order to get quality healthcare, or land up borrowing money from Sahukars who levy heavy interests. The share of non regular expenditure on healthcare as a proportion of total household monthly per capita expenditure is 6.9 percent in rural areas and 5.5 percent in urban areas. Poor and marginalized people will be the main beneficiaries of the revolutionary Ayushman Bharat scheme.