National healthcare schemes often dilute the responsibility of the states and overlook the need for preventive measures
The Ayushman Bharat: National Health Protection Scheme (AB-NHPS) has a defined benefit cover of ₹ 5 lakh per family per year covering over 10 crore families. The ideation of the scheme needs to be lauded for addressing one of the primary issues of our healthcare system—the rising out-of-pocket expenditure. In 2011-12, more than 55 million Indians were pushed into poverty because of rising expenditure on healthcare. Several studies have shown that an increase in illness and consequent expenditure on drugs, diagnostics and care leads to the exacerbation of poverty in developing countries. Government data suggests that about 63% of the people have to pay for their own healthcare and hospitalization expenses as they aren’t covered under any health protection scheme. Hence, there is no doubt that the scheme is well-intentioned. However, its implementation in the current form could create an incentive problem in certain states, which could potentially reduce their health spending.