The historic and game-changing Ayushman Bharat Yojana envisaged and launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 23 2018, is a watershed moment in the history of post-independent India. In fact, Ayushman Bharat has emerged as the world’s largest health insurance scheme and its implementation and working out will strengthen and transform the lives of 50 crore people from the poor and marginalized sections of society.
This is as Prime Minister Modi said more than entire population of the European Union. It is a huge firewall against the decay of our national health, and pushes us all towards a healthy India. Such an initiative, as Prime Minister said, “…is unparalleled in terms of scale and extent. It shows our unwavering commitment to create a healthy India.”
Ayushman Bharat increases the benefit cover to “nearly 40% of the low income groups”, caters to those who have faced most the brunt of unaffordable health care in the country for the past seven decades.
The sum assured per family per year is Rs. five lakhs and the scheme comes across as well structured, sensitive, responsive and comes with a host of benefits. It offers, for example, among other things, 1350 medical packages covering “surgeries, treatments, hospitalization, medical costs & diagnostics at all public and empanelled hospitals.”
The target audience of the scheme are those who have faced neglect over the years, especially when it came to health care, those whose hard-earned savings have been depleted whenever faced with health challenges. Prime Minister Modi observed at the launch of the scheme, “Expensive healthcare adversely affects the poor. Through PMJAY-Ayushman Bharat, we want to strengthen the hands of the poor and stand shoulder to shoulder with them in pursuit of good health.”
The initiative, like most other flagship initiatives of the Modi government, also contributes towards strengthening the spirit of co-operative federalism. The states have been made crucial stakeholders in this entire effort; the Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Council (AB-NHPMC) will be set up for imparting policy direction and “fostering coordination between the Centre and the states.”
For seven decades a number of leaders, mainly from dynastic parties and communist parties have paid lip service when it came to empowering the marginalized, little was done in terms of actual benefit or effect on the ground. Ayushman Bharat is one of the most concrete expression and manifestations of the governance philosophy of ‘Antyoday’ as propounded by Pandit Deendayal Upadhayay, it caters to and reaches out to the last marginalized citizen on the societal ladder and introduces equity in the fundamental field of healthcare. It empowers, infuses confidence, and strengthens those for whom access to healthcare and protection against illness have been perennial challenges. It is an initiative that the world must take note of.