The world’s largest government-funded health insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) has got a great boost as the beneficiaries of this scheme will soon get treatment in all the railway, Army and ESIC hospitals as well as in some other hospitals under PSUs across the country. This is bound to accentuate the capacity of the insurance scheme even as these, department specific, hospitals will now share the workload along with the existing public and private ones. PMJAY takes care of the secondary and tertiary health care in the government’s flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme. The Scheme also includes plans to open healthcare centres across the country to fulfil primary healthcare needs.
The National Health Agency, responsible for the implementation of the government-funded health insurance scheme, is trying to expand the network of hospitals by empanelling them in the government sector with spare capacity. Ayushman Bharat chief executive, Indu Bhushan reportedly told the Times of India, “We have already initiated talks with the ministry of railways, defence, ESIC, and department of public sector enterprises to empanel all the hospitals under them across the country. This would increase capacity as well as give more choices to beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat across the country.”
Under PMJAY, the government has set an ambitious target of increasing the rate of hospitalisation by 0.3 per cent in the first few years. As per government projections, this would require an additional 40,000 beds. In that sense, the present move to bring Railways, Army and other hospitals in the empanelled list is wonderful and historic. Around 125 railways hospitals, including certain specialised hospitals for cancer (Varanasi), heart diseases (Chennai), orthopaedics (Kolkata) and plastic surgery (Mumbai) are expected to be opened to the 50 crore beneficiaries on the basis of the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC). Similarly, the combined strength of 274 hospitals of ESIC, Army and Airforce along with nine naval ones across India are also going to be made available to these beneficiaries. The National Health Agency will soon initiate the necessary training and infrastructure update, required to empanel these hospitals under the PMJAY scheme.
‘Modicare’, launched by PM Modi from Ranchi in September, has generated a lot of enthusiasm. It is being seen as a game changer and largely as a pro-poor move which will take healthcare to the next level. It is set to ensure easy access to health care for all, irrespective of monetary considerations. It is a known fact that government-run health facilities are suffering from acute shortages of human resource. Given the widening gap between the supply and demand of healthcare facilities provided by the government run healthcare institutions, Modicare has come as a boon. It will empower the poor with the option to visit either the public hospitals or the empanelled private hospitals. Now, the Army, Railways, ESIC and certain hospitals under the PSUs have been added to the list of options that these beneficiaries can go for. This is going to further open up Modicare and make it even a more effective scheme. This unprecedented development is yet another strong step towards providing quality along with accessible and affordable health care to the needy and deprived across the country.
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