Union Budget 2018: ‘Modicare’ to provide health insurance to 500 million Indians

Updated on Feb 01, 2018 10:40 PM IST

It is the world’s biggest health protection scheme by size, not budget, and will raise health cover by up to 17 times from the existing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana that caps it at Rs30,000 per year.

Only 28.7% families in India have at least one person who is covered by some form of health insurance, according to the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16).(File)
Only 28.7% families in India have at least one person who is covered by some form of health insurance, according to the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16).(File)
New Delhi, Hindustan Times | By

The Narendra Modi government has announced a transformative public health programme offering health insurance cover of up to Rs5 lakh to 100 million poor and vulnerable families, with the benefits expected to reach 500 million individuals, 40% of India’s population.

“It is taking health care to a new aspirational level as it is going to be the world’s largest government-funded programme,” said Arun Jaitley, finance minister, in his budget speech about the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), which is being referred to as ‘Modicare’.

It’s the world’s biggest health protection scheme by size, not budget, and will raise health cover by up to 17 times from the existing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) that caps it at Rs30,000 per year. The outlay for RSBY went up from Rs1,000 crore in 2017 to Rs2,000 crore this year.

Only 28.7% families in India have at least one person who is covered by some form of health insurance, according to the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16).

NHPS was first announced in the 2016 budget, but didn’t take off. In its first avatar it offered Rs1 lakh cover, with a top-up of Rs30,000 for senior citizens. “It couldn’t get implemented but that scheme is now subsumed by this current scheme,” said Manoj Jhalani, mission director, national health mission at the health ministry.

Once fully rolled out, the scheme could entail an annual premium outgo of between Rs2 lakh-crore and Rs2.5 lakh crore, but experts say money is not an immediate concern.

The sheer size of the scheme will help state governments negotiate costs of services.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sanchita is the health & science editor of the Hindustan Times. She has been reporting and writing on public health policy, health and nutrition for close to two decades. She is an International Reporting Project fellow from Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and was part of the expert group that drafted the Press Council of India’s media guidelines on health reporting, including reporting on people living with HIV.

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