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Health ‘Modified’

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Modified HealthThe government is likely to roll out its much touted National Health Assurance Mission (NAHM) in January, promising health insurance for all. The PMO recently asked the health ministry to work out the modalities of the scheme as well as revamp the existing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) to expand its span to include universal coverage, said an official. 

RSBY, currently managed by the labour ministry, will also be soon transferred to the health ministry. “A decision to this effect has already been taken by the PMO,” the official, who attended the meeting, told. He said the PMO wants the ministry to expedite the streamlining of the scheme. 

For the time being, RSBY will be part of NHAM which will be rolled out in phases. Gradually, the two will be merged as one policy, the official said. “The complete merger will take around three years,” he said.
Improving public health has been high on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda. Sources said the Cabinet secretariat and PMO have been regularly taking updates on the issue.

The government plans to offer a complete basket of services under NHAM. This would include 50 essential medicines, a package of diagnostic services as well as around 30 alternative medicines such as Ayurveda, homeopathy etc. The benefits will be available to all citizens unlike RSBY which is mostly limited to below-poverty-line families.
Under NHAM, the poor will get free treatment whereas rest of the population will have to pay a minimum premium, factored on age and income categories.

While the new scheme will attempt to provide healthcare benefits at all levels ” primary, secondary as well as tertiary ” RSBY will be initially responsible for providing secondary health care services. RSBY, one of the flagship social sector schemes started by the UPA government in April 2008, provides cashless health insurance of up to Rs 30,000 per year to BPL families through smart cards. It covers over three crore workers from the unorganized sector.

At present, the out of pocket personal expenditure on health care in India is over 75 per cent of the total expenses, whereas in developed countries like the US and UK it is less than 15 per cent.

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