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Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Budget announces new health cover of `1 lakh per family

For senior citizens of age 60 years and above belonging to poor and economically weak families, an additional top-up package of up to `30,000 will be provided

Staying with the government’s plan to introduce financial schemes to allow for social security for the poor, the Union Budget for financial year (FY) 2016-17 has announced a new health protection scheme which will provide health cover up to 1lakh per family. This may work like a floater policy that considers the entire family as one unit so if one member of the family makes use of the health insurance cover, the amount of sum insured—1 lakh—in this case will reduce by that much amount.

For senior citizens of age 60 years and above belonging to poor and economically weak families, an additional top-up package of up to 30,000 will be provided. “Catastrophic health events are the single most important cause of unforeseen out-of-pocket expenditure which pushes lakhs of households below the poverty line every year. Serious illness of family members cause severe stress on the financial circumstances of poor and economically weak families, shaking the foundation of their economic security,"said finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech.

The details of the scheme are still awaited.

Further, in order to make quality medicines available at affordable prices, the government will open 3,000 stores under Prime Minister’s Jan Aushadhi Yojana during 2016-17. Jaitley also said that about 220,000 new patients of end stage renal disease get added in India every year resulting in additional demand for 34 million dialysis sessions. However there are only 4,950 dialysis centres in India, largely in the private sector and concentrated in major towns so the demand is only half met, the finance minister added.

“Every dialysis session costs about 2,000—an annual expenditure of more than 3 lakh. Besides, most families have to undertake frequent trips, often over long distances, to access dialysis services, incurring heavy travel costs and loss of wages," he said. In order to create supply, the government will start a ‘National Dialysis Services Programme’ for which the funds will be made available through Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode under the National Health Mission, to provide dialysis services in all district hospitals. In order to reduce cost, the budget announcement has exempted certain parts of dialysis equipment from basic customs duty, excise, countervailing duty (CVD) and special additional duty (SAD).

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