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Business News/ News / India/  Ayushman Bharat cap may double to 10 lakh
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Ayushman Bharat cap may double to ₹10 lakh

The health ministry has requested ₹1.1 trillion for FY25, up 23% from ₹89,155 crore in FY24, to enhance health schemes and expand insurance coverage under Ayushman Bharat.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha election, the health ministry is focusing on enhancing schemes to benefit women, tribals, youths and poor. (Pradeep Gaur/Mint)Premium
Ahead of the Lok Sabha election, the health ministry is focusing on enhancing schemes to benefit women, tribals, youths and poor. (Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

New Delhi: The government may double the ceiling on its flagship health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) from the current 5 lakh to 10 lakh in the interim budget on 1 February, two officials aware of the matter said.

The Union budget for FY24 had allocated 7,200 crore for Ayushman Bharat, a number that may more than double to around 15,000 crore in FY25. The health ministry has requested the finance ministry for 1.1 trillion for FY25, up 23% from 89,155 crore in FY24, said one of the two officials cited above, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity. The FY23 budget had set aside 86,200 crore for the health ministry.

Emails sent to spokespersons of the health and finance ministries remained unanswered till press time.

Health schemes have helped the Bharatiya Janata Party win four of the five states that went to polls recently. The success of state-led health schemes and their popularity are now proposed to be replicated at the Centre with enhanced insurance coverage under Ayushman Bharat, the officials cited above said.

Started in 2018, Ayushman Bharat offers insurance for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization across empanelled public and private hospitals. It covers up to three days of pre-hospitalization and 15 days post-hospitalization expenses for diagnostics and medicines. So far, the scheme has benefited 600 million people.

“It is worth noting that Rajasthan’s health coverage scheme has now come under AB-PMJAY, where an insurance cover of 25 lakh is being extended to beneficiaries. Though the government may not scale up the coverage to the levels in the state, an enhanced coverage is being considered, which will also cover the rising cost of hospitalization in the country," the official cited above said.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha election, the health ministry is focusing on enhancing schemes to benefit women, tribals, youths and poor. The ministry may also raise funding for the sickle cell programme, which mainly targets the tribal belts.

“More investment is needed with a customised long-term outlook. In fact, much of the healthcare needs of the general public in India are met by the small neighbourhood single-person clinics, especially in rural areas. While tertiary centres are no doubt important for providing more specialized care for select conditions to a small percentage of the population, most regular healthcare needs and preventive health is the work of small clinics. They need to be bolstered, supported and steps taken to prevent them from closing down. The common man depends on them for everyday needs at low cost," said Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, a public health expert.

In 2023, the ministry had started the National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission aiming to eliminate the disease by 2047. “There were health camps organized by the ministry and the focus for the sickle cell programme was in the tribal belts. To expand the programme and meet the targets, more funds will be required. The ministry is also distributing Sickle Cell Genetic Status Cards in tribal areas," another official noted. This is part of the National Health Mission (NHM). Many of the schemes which are oriented towards women and child health are also on focus of the government.

The health ministry has also sent a proposal to set up seven new All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Last year, the government had allotted 6,835 crore to set up new AIIMS centres. So far, establishment of 22 new AIIMS and 75 upgradation projects of existing government medical colleges/institutions (GMCIs) have been approved under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana. The six AIIMS approved under Phase- I (AIIMS-Bhopal, AIIMS-Bhubaneswar, AIIMS-Jodhpur, AIIMS-Patna, AIIMS-Raipur and AIIMS- Rishikesh) are already fully functional.

Sixteen AIIMS were approved by the Cabinet for upgradation to AIIMS level which are at Gorakhpur (UP), Raebareli (UP), Nagpur (Maharashtra), Kalyani (West Bengal), Mangalagiri (Andhra Pradesh), Bibinagar (Telangana), Bathinda (Punjab) Deoghar (Jharkhand), Bilaspur (Himachal Pradesh), Rajkot (Gujarat), Guwahati (Assam), Vijaypur (Jammu), and Madurai (Tamil Nadu), Darbhanga (Bihar), Awantipura (Kashmir) and Manethi (Haryana).

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Published: 12 Jan 2024, 11:54 PM IST
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