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NEW DELHI : New Delhi: The Union government has widened the base of beneficiaries under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) from the current 107.4 million poor and vulnerable families to 120 million in an effort to provide quality affordable healthcare to more citizens, said a person familiar with the matter.

Currently, these beneficiary families are identified from the socio-economic Caste Census of 2011 on the basis of certain deprivation- and occupation-based criteria.

The Centre will share the financial burden of the states and encourage populous states such as Uttar Pradesh to include more beneficiaries. The expansion will benefit an additional 12.6 million families comprising 60 million individuals.

AB PM-JAY is the world’s largest health assurance scheme. It was launched in September 2018 with an aim to provide free health cover of up to 5 lakh per eligible beneficiary for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.

Since its launch, the scheme has grown rapidly as it is currently being implemented by 33 states/UTs (except Delhi, Odisha and West Bengal), which are offering 1,949 treatment procedures through a network of 26,000 empanelled hospitals. Over the years, PM-JAY has benefited more than 42 million people who received free of cost treatment while 210 million eligible beneficiaries are empowered with Ayushman cards.“The government has estimated 11.7% population decadal growth since 2011 population census till 2021. When PM-JAY was implemented in 2018, the government selected around 107.4 million poor and vulnerable families (approx. 500 million individual beneficiaries) under PM-JAY so that the government could cover the bottom 40% of the population," the person cited above said, adding that the scheme will now cover at least 560-570 million individuals.

“However, the population census has not been done after 2011. But we are assuming 11.7% decadal growthof the population and therefore, the Central government has now allowed a 120 million beneficiary base under PM-JAY. With this move, more eligible beneficiary families will benefit from the scheme," the person said.

The move aims to encourage state governments to add more eligible beneficiaries under the scheme as the Centre will support states by sharing their financial burden.

For instance, states like Uttar Pradesh will receive the maximum benefit as it already has a base of 11.8 million beneficiaries. In addition to this, the government will also increase the budget allocation of PM-JAY. The government had allocated 6412 crore to AB PM-JAY for 2022-23, which is set to increase further.

Queries sent to spokespeople at the health ministry and National Health Authority remained unanswered till press time.

Mint earlier reported about the FY24 Union budget likely to expand the coverage of AB PM-JAY to the non-poor segments of society, often called the missing middle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Priyanka Sharma

Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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