New Delhi: The Prime Minister’s flagship health insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat, or popularly known as Modicare, unveiled by Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget this year, is in choppy waters with even BJP-ruled Rajasthan refusing to sign up.
The scheme has run into ‘costing’ problems, with the government finding itself in a stand-off with private hospitals over the package rates it has proposed for various medical procedures. For instance, the government has proposed prices of knee and hip replacements at Rs 9,000 each, stenting at Rs 40,000, coronary artery bypass grafting at Rs 1.10 lakh, caesarean delivery at Rs 9,000, vertebral angioplasty with single stent at Rs 50,000 and hysterectomy for cancer at 50,000.
Though the BJP expects the scheme to be the biggest vote-churner in the coming Lok Sabha elections, those tasked with its implementation fear that it may remain a non-starter if the states and the private hospitals refuse to cooperate. Earlier this week, the Indian Medical Association termed the package rates put forth by the government as “unacceptable” and warned that they will put patients “at risk” by “compromising on the quality of service.”
The scheme, which was touted by Jaitley as the “world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme,” claims to provide free health insurance of Rs. 5 lakhs per family to nearly 40% of the population. As is typical of the BJP government, this promise too is full of hype and sketchy on details with no clear roadmap ahead, which is why it has run into rough terrain with states and the hospitals alike.
Rajasthan and Odisha did not sign up for Modicare due to the fear that it will rather subsume their functional local health programmes. With no clear roadmap given and Modicare seemingly still figuring out costs, the poll-bound states are worried about how voters will react.
While the Union Budget 2018-19 was full of lofty claims with no details, perhaps the biggest of them was Modicare. A draft tender sent to the states shows that the prices put forth under the scheme are nearly one-fifth lower than the rates offered under the central scheme. “Unplanned and riddled with implementation failures, much like PM Modi’s other schemes, Modicare seems to be following in the path of demonetisation and GST, naturally going awry,” the Congress said.