Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi, reported The Indian Express. He also laid the foundation stones for medical colleges in Chaibasa and Koderma, and inaugurated 10 health and wellness centres.
The Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana, under the larger Ayushman Bharat programme, is a health insurance scheme that assures a cover of Rs 5 lakh per year to India’s poorest families. It plans to cover more than 1,300 medical treatments and procedures. It is touted as the “world’s largest government funded healthcare programme”.
“The total number of beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat is more than the population of the United States, Canada and Mexico,” Modi said at the launch, ANI reported. “Organisations across the world will study Ayushman Bharat to find out how the government funded this scheme. I am confident that in the coming days, people working in the medical field will bring out new schemes based on this health cover.”
The prime minister also urged people to remember the helpline for the scheme – 14555, The Times of India reported. “Some people are calling it Modicare but for me this scheme is only about benefiting the poor.”
Union Minister JP Nadda said the launch of Ayushman Bharat marked “a historic day not only for India, but also a big jump in health sector for the world”, reported the Hindustan Times.
The scheme was first announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget in February, following which Modi made an announcement about the scheme during his Independence Day speech.
Jharkhand health department officials said beneficiaries have already started receiving the prime minister’s customised letter regarding the scheme. “State government is making effort to ensure all 5.7 million families get the letter by October 2,” said Jharkhand Health Secretary Nidhi Khare, according to the Hindustan Times.
According to the health ministry’s statement, around 10.74 crore entitled families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) will be eligible for benefits under the scheme. Eligible people can avail benefits in government and listed private hospitals. The beneficiaries are identified based on four “deprivation categories”. There is no cap on family size or age under this scheme.