[Answered] “Apart from curing, Ayushman Bharat Scheme is empowering several Indians.” In light of this statement examine the significance of ayushman bharat scheme.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. How Ayushman Bharat is empowering Indian citizens? Various issues and challenges.
Conclusion. Way forward.

In 2011-12, more than 55 million Indians were pushed into poverty because of rising expenditure on healthcare. Government of India due to rising healthcare challenges launched Ayushman Bharat which has a defined benefit cover of ₹ 5 lakh per family per year covering over 10 crore families. Pegged to be world’s largest healthcare scheme it has led to benefits of Many Indian citizens especially the poor.

How Ayushman Bharat is empowering Indian citizens?

  1. Better Reach: Establishment of Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Agency at National Level and State Health Agency involve implementation of Scheme in a targeted manner ensuring effective implementation. This helped in increasing the ambit of the Scheme at Ground levels.
  2. Creation of healthcare Infrastructure: A strong Network of  the 1,50,000 Health and Wellness Centres are being developed that will strengthen the national focus on preventive healthcare.
  3. Targeted coverage: It cover more than 10 Crore Poor and Vulnerable Families of the Society. Thus in a way it helps in uplifting 10 crore poor out of poverty.
  4. Penetration and increased access: Participation of private sector not only ensure more doctors but also near home availability of health facilities. It led to increase in availability near Home in Rural Areas through trained professionals. It also led to increased access for Vulnerable Sections of the Society to Healthcare. Further the scheme is portable in nature that will benefit the migrated population in unorganised sector which are often excluded in government schemes.    
  5. Affordability: Another impact of the PMJAY is rationalisation of the cost of care in the private sector.
  6. Employment: Jobs are being created for professionals and non-professionals— especially women. It will give a boost to the health technology industry.
  7. Better Healthcare System: It is an enabler of quality, affordability and accountability in the health system. The empanelled hospitals have been tasked to follow the treatment guidelines. Patient outcomes will be monitored.

Some issues and challenges:

  1. A state subject: Under the 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution, health is a state subject. Apart from central institutions such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a major chunk of the hospitals/ medical centres is state-owned and -operated. A nationwide scheme of health insurance to supply healthcare facilities at the state level leads to a dilution of the state responsibility in the provisioning of the same. Further it require centre state on equal footing.
  2. Not a long term solution: Conferring responsibility on private insurance could not be long term solution. As public private partnerships in past have been criticised for various issues, above can also lead to issues in the implementation of Ayushman Bharat. Further in rural areas private doctors are few as doctors are reluctant to work in rural areas. Mostly quacks or family doctor serve, so it can be an issue.
  3. Infrastructure: Shortages in services such as infrastructure, Human Resources, quality of doctors etc have always been an issue. Many villages still lack roads, nearby hospitals, proper staff etc. Thus implementation of the scheme would be a huge task.
  4. Monetary: It requires huge amount of funding and spending. States have to mobilise funds which will not be an easy task being many states are under debt, further borrowing may put balance sheet under stress. Further there is no uniform pricing system for other health interventions like medicines and diagnostics.
  5. Not Universal: Developed nation has universal health coverage, while scheme doesn’t cover all sections of society, so many may remain excluded. It cover only 40% of Indian population.

Government data suggests that about 63% of the people have to pay for their own healthcare and hospitalisation expenses as they aren’t covered under any health protection scheme. Hence, the Ayushman Bharat scheme is well-intentioned. However, its implementation in the current form need extra efforts and can solve nation’s health issues, which require state-centre efforts and intent.

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