Modi govt rushes to insure 50 crore Indians before 2019 Lok Sabha polls
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plan to provide health
insurance to half a billion Indians.
India’s mass of
people larger than the entire population of South America .
The government is still working to lock in hospitals and
insurance companies in time for its planned August launch.
It aims to cover the poorest 40 % in a country where a 2017
World Health Organisation (WHO)report found spending on health pushed more than
52 million people below the poverty line.
Although beneficiaries have been identified and the IT
infrastructure has been put in place, the involvement of hospitals - public and
private - and insurance companies was still to be finalized.
The programme would be ready by India's Independence Day on
It's the government's second major welfare push this year -
in March it presented a draft bill on a social security programme + designed to
cover the country's 500 million poorest workers, including those in informal
The total cost of the programme hasn't yet been calculated,
but the promise is to provide poor families up to 500,000 rupees ($7,250) in
An earlier federal health insurance scheme had managed to
cover just 61 % of those eligible after 10 years of operation, government data
India has long under invested in health and spending as
percentage of GDP is lower than most low income countries, including neighbors
Nepal and Maldives.
The Modi government has decided to launch the ambitious
Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme + with an eye on the 2019 polls.
The programme's reach will also be limited by India's poor
health facilities, dated equipment and shortage of staff in rural areas, where
the majority of people eligible for benefits live.
India has 0.8 hospital beds per 1000 people, compared to an
average of 3.3 among Asian countries.
The ratio is often taken as a measure of in-patient health