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National Health Insurance Scheme – Budget 2018

One of the greatest takeaways of the National Health Insurance Scheme in Budget 2018 has been the allocation of an annual fund of up to Rs. 5 lakhs per family for 10 crore families belonging to a poor and vulnerable section of society. This comes up to a coverage for up to 50 crore individuals. As opposed to this, the current coverage per family is only Rs. 30,000 per annum.

Another one of the big announcements of the National Health Protection Scheme was that there would be one medical college for three Parliamentary constituencies, and that there would be at least one medical college in every state. This was announced by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who called NHPS the “world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme."

The primary goal of Budget 2018 is to forge the creation of a new India by 2022, one which is a lot more productive and one with a lower rate of wage loss and poverty. To facilitate that, the NHPS is a part of the Ayushman Bharat scheme which covers a preventive healthcare component of Rs 1,200 crore.

However, the model for checking one’s eligibility is yet to be determined. The eligibility will be based on the “deprivations” data from the socio-economic caste census (SECC). However, it’s up to the states to decide whether to use an insurance-based model of implementation like Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), or a trust-based one.

Furthermore, 1200 crores have also been set aside to convert or establish 1.5 lakh healthcare centres to bring easy healthcare to people. These healthcare facilities will provide health care for diseases (both communicable and non-communicable), and also maternity and child health services while also providing essential drugs and diagnosis. Furthermore, primary health service would now also cover mental illnesses.

The NHPS will account for almost one-third of the country’s stock market value with an assured sum of Rs. 50 lakh crore. The government has allocated Rs. 2,000 crore for this, however, several insurance sources believe that it will cost Rs 10,000 crore.

The National Health Policy has confirmed that primary health care will receive 70% of the funds for public health, thus being given priority.

However, detractors suggest that the resources allocated aren’t enough to achieve these lofty ambitions. The greatest challenge to the National Health Insurance Scheme Budget 2018 is limitations in health workforce to be able to deliver the primary services with the necessary effectiveness, equity, etc.

Such mass scale expansion of primary health care can only be carried through if it’s accompanied by a vast increase in the numbers of community health workers, allied health professionals, and mid-level healthcare providers.

However, detractors aside, the National Health Care Insurance Scheme in Budget 2018 is being roundly praised for addressing a variety of issues. Not only does it include programmes to improve nutritional intake for children, and provide support for patients with tuberculosis, but it also renders health care and the achievement of ​health insurance​​ more attainable.