'Modicare' to introduce free medicine, health insurance for citizens

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 05, 2014 00:13 IST

In a major health sector reform, the government will ensure that every resident in India has access to affordable healthcare with provisions of free essential medicines while bringing over a dozen diseases including cancer and heart ailments under the ambit of the proposed National Health Assurance Mission.

The reform to be packed under the mission will subsume the UPA government's National Health Mission and will also create infrastructure to provide generic variants of 348 essential medicines and fitness related diagnostic facilities across India.

To be launched from the next financial year, the mission will also unveil the country's first national health assurance cover for all at affordable rates similar to Obama healthcare introduced in the United States, senior government sources told HT.

"The government will chip in to pay insurance premium for the poor. Others will have to buy an insurance cover to get benefits under the Mission but the premium would be less than the existing health insurance rates," a health ministry official said, adding the poor are likely to be identified on basis of their annual household income.

The mission aims to reduce out of pocket health expenditure for people, which as per national sample survey office survey had almost doubled in 2012 as compared to 2000.

It also aims at optimum use of public health infrastructure created under the erstwhile National Rural Health Mission. NSSO data shows that the use of government's inefficient health system was falling even in rural areas with people opting for private medical facilities despite government expenditure on public health increasing to about 4% of the GDP.

A senior official said the mission would move into PPP mode to provide affordable healthcare with private players allowed to utilise certain government created infrastructure.

The reform will take the successful insurance-based models in states like Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu to the national scale. These models cover health cost in the empanelled private hospitals and in those where the patients are referred by a government hospital and provide for free generic medicines in all government hospitals.

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