The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal has praised PM’s Ayushman Bharat scheme. The journal praised PM Modi for prioritizing universal health care in India. The Lancet is among the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world. The Lancet has the second highest impact factor after The New England Journal of Medicine. Praise from one of the best medical journals in the world tells us how transformative the project of Ayushman Bharat (popularly known as Modicare) is. This project aims to provide universal healthcare for the first in nation’s history. “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’.
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. Public healthcare is in a dire state in the country, as the Congress Party which ruled the country since decades could not provide universal healthcare in the country despite its repeated promises to do so in every election manifesto. Healthcare in the country is primarily in private hands and is very expensive, therefore most of the poor people are denied treatment. Richard Horton criticized Rahul Gandhi and Congress party for not being able to provide universal healthcare in the country, “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,” said Horton is a article published in the journal.
Modicare is being hailed as the largest public sector health cover in the world. It will subsume Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) which was started in 2008 by the Manmohan Singh government to provide health insurance coverage to people living Below Poverty Line (BPL). Modicare will offer treatment at 20 percent lower rates than Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) and RSBY. Almost 50 crore people which is nearly 40 percent of the population of the country are expected to benefit from the scheme. CGHS is the existing medical care scheme for the central government employees, started in 1954 under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Horton also commented on Rahul Gandhi’s understanding of social issues. In a speech at London School of Economics Mr Gandhi said, ‘There is a full-blown crisis in India’ on job problems in India. However, according to Horton ‘health crisis’ will be main issue in the country in upcoming years and it will impact 2019 general election results too. “…as the BJP and Congress set out competing and contrasting visions for India’s future, health will rightly become a decisive issue in next year’s general election. After years of neglect, the Indian Government has at last recognized the perils of public discontent about health. Under a new initiative called Ayushman Bharat launched this year, Prime Minister Modi has implemented two new flagship programmes,” said Horton.
According to the draft of National Health Policy, “Over 63 million persons 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. The new Modicare policy by the government will create a competitive environment in the market to provide cheap and better healthcare in the country. Twenty states and union territories have already signed initial agreements to implement the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) to provide health insurance to almost 50 crore people in the country. Modicare will be able to provide healthcare to the last man of the country which will be the realization of “Antyodaya” dream of BJP ideologue Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyay.