New Delhi: When launched, Ayushman Bharat, popularly called Modicare, was billed as a game changer for the country’s healthcare sector. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it a poll issue and in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has launched a high octane ad campaign to popularise and promote the scheme.
The Opposition Congress has, however, raised serious questions about the benefits of the scheme for the poor, describing it as a “hollow” programme intended to keep private insurance firms and private hospitals in good humour. It has based its allegations on data which has emerged from a study carried out by the newly appointed Congress government in Chhattisgarh.
Odisha and five other states have refused to implement it in their states.
What are the allegations:
1. Ayushman Bharat assures medical coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh. The monthly premium paid by the government is Rs 1,100. The Congress claims the coverage provided is only up to Rs 50,000 and not beyond that, with a monthly premium of Rs 1,100.
2. The scheme is confined to indoor patients and does not cover medical expenses incurred for outdoor services. According to the Congress, expenses incurred for outdoor services such as a doctor’s consultation fee, medicine and stitches constitute 85 per cent of the total medical expenditure in the country.
3. Ayushman Bharat does not cover treatment for diabetes and blood pressure. India is known as the diabetes capital of the world and BP has become a household disease. What benefit will the scheme hold for patients if these two diseases have been kept out of its purview, the Congress party asks.
4. It encourages fraud as service providers are allowed to commit irregularities on the first two counts. “Why do you allow fraud in the first place itself if your intention is to make the scheme a success,” senior party leader Jairam Ramesh told mediapersons at a briefing.
5. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said 11 crore families will benefit from the scheme. But as many families are already being covered under various health schemes launched by the state governments and the UPA government’s Rashtriya Swasthiya Bima Yojana, Ramesh claimed.
He said making health care a fundamental right of citizens will be included in the party manifesto, likely to be announced soon.
The BJP’s reaction is awaited.