The Union Government’s flagship programme – the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) – that is said to offer insurance cover for the poor and mariginalised is set to roll out by October this year.
The scheme will be funded in a 60:40 proportion by the Centre and states, according to the Times of India.
“We have held meetings with state representatives on the issue. Further meetings will be held over the next few days to work out the nitty-gritty, so that the scheme is available to beneficiaries by October 2,” NITI Aayog member, VK Paul said.
This ambitious project, which was announced during the Budget 2018 speech is estimated to cover 10 crore poor families, helping over 50 crore beneficiaries, and is the biggest of its kind in the world.
This programme will be an Aadhaar-linked facility where beneficiaries can avail treatment anywhere in the country in empanelled private or public hospitals.
Several experts had wondered how the scheme would be implemented and whether the funds allocated were sufficient to offer secondary and tertiary care to such a large population in the country.
As per NITI Aayog calculations, the quantum of premium will be Rs 10,000-12,000 crore per year. The Centre is confident of implementing the scheme successfully, with the help of the low premiums it hopes to secure from insurance firms.
Sources also gave the example of the Rajasthan government, which currently offers a cover of Rs 3.75 lakh a year for a premium of Rs 500 per family and the utilisation or claims rate is around 2.5%. Rs 1,200 crore has been allocated in the state budget for the same.
Director-general of Health Services Dr BD Athani said that NHPS would help reduce the number of people who end up falling under the poverty line due to the high cost of medical expenses. “Nearly 6 to 7 crore people fall under the poverty line every year due to medical expenses. The insurance scheme will help check this trend,” he said.
According to IANS, sources in the Union Government estimate that the Centre and states will incur a total cost of up to Rs 10,000 crore in the first year.
Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said a lot of specificity will be brought into the scheme by the first quarter of the next fiscal year.
"Based on the experience of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and some number crunching by the Health Ministry – also a belief that this will be a shared scheme between the Centre and states – it places next year's requirement at around Rs 4,000 crore," Garg told IANS.
He clarified that while the total outlay of the scheme would be around Rs 8,000-10,000 crore, the Centre's share would be around Rs 4,000 crore.
The programme is set to offer a cover for tertiary and secondary illness, a list of ailments of which has been chalked out. He added that "specific illnesses" will be covered for 10 crore families and they would be entitled to hospital expenses up to Rs 5 lakh.