Up to half a billion people will benefit from the National Health Protection Scheme which was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and colloquially termed ‘Modicare.’
Those eligible, under the scheme, could receive up to 7,800 US Dollars per family.
“We are all aware that families in our country have to borrow or sell assets to receive treatment in hospitals. The Government is seriously concerned about such impoverishment of poor and vulnerable families,” Jaitley said in his speech.
India is currently spending less than 1 per cent of its GDP on healthcare,but wants to increase spending to 2.5 per cent by 2022.
Most government hospitals lack infrastructure or expertise and private healthcare is expensive and beyond the reach of the poor. The scheme hopes to change that by promoting healthcare, emphasising on preventive healthcare and improving the quality of medical education.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this was the world’s largest government funded healthcare programme. “This budget is farmer-friendly, common citizen-friendly, business environment- friendly and development-friendly. It will add to ease of living,” Modi said.
However, many are seeing Modicare as a populist measure aimed at increasing sagging poll numbers ahead of general elections.
Jaitley denied the accusations and said that the budget is a short-term measures. “The Prime Minister is not in for momentary populism. Jaitley said.
“We all are worried about farmers and are working to double their income. We need to work on rural roads, toilets, electricity, health for the poor and work on giving the farmer a good price for the produce,” he added.