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‘Modicare’ major step towards universal health coverage: American think tank

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A top American think-tank has lauded the Government’s ambitious health insurance scheme Pradhan Mantri – Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), popularly known as ‘Modicare’, terming it a major step towards Universal Health Coverage in India. In similar vein, the think-tank has said that the government should ensure that it is sustainable and delivers the high-quality care that people need.

Based on the first year’s analysis of the Modicare, Washington DC-based Centre for Global Development (CGD stated that the overall effort has been positive but they also highlighted challenges and several potential pitfalls related to cost and quality that could derail the scheme’s progress.

“Modicare has put healthcare within reach for hundreds of millions, significantly increasing the number of people who have government-funded health insurance and far exceeding the initial estimates,” Amanda Glassman, chief operating officer at CGD and one of the authors of the study, told PTI,

“We found that more than 500 million people are now eligible for coverage by Modicare or state-funded expansions of the programme. That’s an impressive number, but there are still lots of work to do to bring down costs and bring up quality, Glassman said ahead of the release of the report.

A more active approach should be taken up by the government in not just helping Indians pay for healthcare, but making sure that they get the highest quality care possible, the researchers wrote in the report.

Modicare’s keen focus in the first year has been on expanding access to health insurance, but at some point, the government needs to take steps to tackle the costs of the programme, the researchers said.

These steps would include better purchasing policies for medical supplies and drugs and an increased focus on providing preventative health services like vaccines that could contain high costs of later treatment, they note.

India has done an impressive job expanding healthcare to hundreds of millions more people, but there’s still a lot of work to do. The next big step is making sure that Modicare is sustainable and that it delivers the high-quality care that Indians need, Kalipso Chalkidou, a senior fellow at CGD and an author of the study, said.

“In a country of almost 1.4 billion people that is home to one-third of global maternal deaths, where public spending for health accounts for roughly one per cent of GDP and where 60 million people fall into poverty every year because of healthcare bills, fixing healthcare is a daunting task that will determine the world’s performance against the Sustainable Development Goals over the coming decade,” said the report, a copy of which was made available exclusively to PTI.

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