Ayushman Bharat: A leap towards inclusive growth

Launched on 23rd September 2018, Ayushman Bharat Yojana completes its one year. The last year and accomplishments are evident of the fact that the scheme is a true game changer for  India’s healthcare ecosystem. Guaranteed financial protection to over 10 crore poor households by providing upto Rs. 5 lakh per family per year, has marked a milestone in India’s healthcare protection endeavors.

In just 12 months, over 43 lakhs beneficiaries have availed free medical facilities and the numbers are increasing every day. The scheme is transforming lives of the people who otherwise could have never been able to afford the expenditure with the money out of their pockets. The scheme is helping in bridging the gap between the vulnerable social groups and institutionalized medical infrastructure. So far, the scheme has been implemented in 32 States and Union Territories.  More than 18 thousand hospitals and healthcare providers have been empanelled across India to ensure optimal accessibility to eligible families and over 10 lakh cards have been issued.

Ayushman Bharat does not only provides free healthcare, 53% of the hospitals empanelled are private, especially multi-speciality beneficiaries which provides beneficiaries an opportunity to choose themselves the hospital from which they want to get their treatment done be it private or public hospitals. A unique feature of PMJAY is its portability, which has helped the eligible poor and migrant workers to seek treatment outside their state taking benefit of this more than 40,000 portability cases have been registered so far.

The IT infrastructure further strengthens the Scheme. It has been endowed with transparent mechanisms and easy enrolment procedures taken care by Ayushman Mitra’s. The scheme maintains highest standards of security and privacy and zero tolerance for corruption and fraud. As it is evident from the recent de-empanelment of 97 errant hospitals and penalties worth more than Rs.1.5 crore have been levied. The government has also designed a grievance management portal an online system to help public to register their grievances and receive assisted support.

Every individual who has availed the benefit of the scheme comes with a different story. To share one among them, a resident of Faridabad,Bhagwan Singh shared his experience by comparinghis two surgeries, he had to undergo within a short span of few months. The first surgery, prior to Ayushman Bharat, costed around 2 lakhs from his pocket. A vegetable vendor, with meagre resources, he had exhausted all his resources on the first surgery, as he was already under the debt he had done to the bear the expenses the first time. Being the only earning member of his family, hospitalization and treatment expenses hit his family hard. However, what seemed impossible earlier, today Bhagwan Singh is discharged from hospital and is recovering fast from his second surgery. This time, he did not have to pay a single penny from his pocket. The cover accorded under PMJAY, has come as a great relief to his family, as they had run out of options to afford quality healthcare. From his experience it is evident that Ayushman Bharat has led to a deep impact on people’s lives by providing financial assistance.

Further, it is important to look at the gamut of schemes in healthcare sector to understand its wider impact on the health ecosystem of the country. There is a dual focus – that is both on ensuring healthy citizenry through various preventive steps and also providing affordable and quality healthcare to the people.

Several initiatives like Wellness Centers under Ayushman Bharat, affordable medicines under AMRIT and Jan Aushadhi Kendras, impetus to Ayush Ministry, and others are helping in increasing access to institutionalized medical infrastructure, eliminating quacks, myths regarding healthcare, focus on women healthcare.

Focusing on pharmaceuticals, medicines often drains resources of families during treatment. Recognizing the need for cheap medicines to reduce financial burden on the patients, over 100 AMRIT pharmacies have been set up across the country to provide medicines for Diabetes, CVDs, Cancer and other diseases at discounted prices to the patients.

At the same time to promote the idea of preventive healthcare over curative, government created a separate Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) to channelize the efforts for promoting the non-allopathic system of medicines.

These strategies are bringing a sociological and behavioral change through inclusive growth of the vulnerable sections of the society to partake in the development processes to eventually achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030.


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