Earlier this month, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration announced plans to push for universal healthcare in India. So far, his budget proposal envisions providing healthcare support and health insurance for 100 million low-income families in India, which would cover 40% of the population. Eventually, the government plans to roll out accessible health insurance to the rest of the nation.
The plans were announced as a part of Budget 2018 by Arun Jaitley, India’s Finance Minister, who claimed that each family would be able to access up to ₹5 lakhs per year for healthcare coverage, a huge jump from the current ₹30,000 allocated to health insurance. As a result, the government is planning on spending ₹12,000 crores on premium payments.
Currently, India spends a little more than 1 percent of its GDP on healthcare, which is one of the lowest figures globally. According to NDTV, the government is aiming to increase that number to 2.5 percent by 2025.
Bloomberg reports that, currently, 60 percent of healthcare expenses in India are paid out-of-pocket, while 70 million individuals become impoverished due to illnesses. India also lacks proper medical services and public hospitals, further making healthcare inaccessible to Indians.
Congress, BJP’s oppositional party, is doubtful of the source of funding for this initiative, while Modi supporters claim that the skepticism is merely political. Jaitley insists that “adequate funds will be provided for smooth implementation of this programme,” ensuring India’s low-income families can access healthcare.