Modicare: Affordable healthcare or a piped dream?

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Modicare: Affordable healthcare or a piped dream?

The current BJP government under the leadership of Narendra Modi has been very active in announcing new schemes and publicizing its policies. A slew of policies such as demonetization, Jan Dhan, Swach Bharat, Make in India etc. have been initiated and implemented in the past four years. The efficacy and success of these policies remains a debatable issue. One such policy is the “National Health Protection Scheme”, which was announced on 1 February 2018. To provide you insights on this policy for your GD PI preparation we have prepared an overview of it.

 

What is Modicare?

In the Union Budget 2018-2019, under the Ayushman Bharat Yojna, Arun Jaitely, the Finance Minister of India, unveiled a new flagship National Health Protection Scheme. The plan was soon dubbed as "ModiCare" by Arun Jaitely and thereafter gained popularity. The plan is said to be the world's largest healthcare programme.

 

Modicare has drawn immediate comparisons with the former US President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care - also known as Obamacare. Obamacare is the unofficial name for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a health reform law signed, by President Barack Obama. The main focus of the programme is to provide more Americans with access to affordable health insurance, improve the quality of healthcare and health insurance, regulate the health insurance industry, and reduce health care spending in the US. Though Modicare has been initiated on the same lines as Obamacare however there are a few differentiating factors such as:

  • 'Modicare' is specifically targeted at India's poor while Obamacare was for the poor but also benefited middle class Americans.
  • In respect to the number of people the two schemes cover, Modicare will provide cover to a much larger population as compared to Obamacare.
  • Under the Modi care, government will invite bids from insurance companies to cover these 10 crore families. Under the Obamacare Act, the United States government pays subsidy in the premium to those whose income falls between 100-400 per cent of the Federal Poverty Line. 

Key facts and figures:

  • The National Health Protection Scheme intends to cover 10 crore familiesinvolving 50 crore family members, nearly 40 per cent of the country's population, with health insurance.
  • The Scheme provides a cover of ₹5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary hospitalization.
  • NHPS covering 50 crore beneficiaries, will be the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme to provide quality health cover to populationlarger than combined citizenry of US, UK, Germany and France.
  • The Centre had drawn up health plan for the scheme in which 40% of fund for the scheme has to come from state
  • It would be a cashless and Aadhaar enabled scheme.
  • The government has stated that a premium of Rs1100 or Rs 1200 per month will be set to be paid under this scheme.
  • The implementation of the scheme will be carried out in three phases.

Arguments in support of the scheme:

  • India spends a little over one percent of its GDP on public healthcare, which is one of the lowest proportions in the world. The launch of the National Health Protection Scheme will bring healthcare closer and more accessible to people.
  • The Economic Survey had pointed that people had to spend an average Rs. 26,000 for treatment per hospitalized in case of private facilities. Mr Jaitley mentioned that the government had been "seriously concerned" that millions had to struggle to receive adequate treatment in hospital.
  • The new NHPS will cover the flaws of the existing Rashtriya Swasthya BimaYojna.
  • According to the estimations by NITI Aayog, country’s apex policy think tank, Modicare is set to significantly lower the cost of healthcare at private hospitals by scaling up the healthcare market.
  • According to Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog, “The fact that the scheme will be available across the country will bring private sector healthcare providers to Tier-3 and Tier- 4 towns and expand operations there. The healthcare market will expand hugely and it will have the potential to bring prices down because of its scale.”
  • As other health insurance scheme are mainly focused on offering coverage to expensive medical treatments so not many people are able to take benefit of these insurance schemes. By implementation of Modicare majority of people will be able to draw the benefits of the scheme.
  • It is expected that ' Modicare ', has the potential to turn India into the largest pharma manufacturer of the world in the next three years. In order to provide affordable healthcare to the poor Modicare calls for the expansion of the pharma sector and the medical devices industry.
  • For the effective execution of NHPS, the government plans to set up 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centers under the Ayushman Bharat program. These centers will provide treatment for non-communicable diseases, and disburse primary care to young mothers and children. Free supply of essential medication and diagnostics is also on the plan.
  • In order to meet the demand for greater accessibility to healthcare, more Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals are planned to be instituted towards the goal of having at least one medical college for every three parliamentary constituencies. 

Arguments against the scheme:

  • Though the scheme is being widely promoted as a new flagship initiative under Modi regime, it is merely an expanded, repackaged version of the social security scheme of 2016. 
  • Given the magnitude of the project, insurance companies would not make money on these policies when pooled. It would be impossible to settle claims leading to non-viability of the business.
  • Congress has dubbed it “as nothing but a pack of lies”. As there are a few elections this year before the big and major one, so the accurate judgment of this highly promoted scheme would not be possible within this short duration.
  • The previous health insurance schemes have not been able to provide the benefits to the intended mass because of the creation of bogus beneficiaries by insurance companies to earn premium subsidies from the government. The new scheme will plug these loopholes or not is still a question.
  • The next general elections are to be held in 2019, in this backdrop, the project is said to be nothing but a gimmick meant to hoodwink voters in an election year.

    Tips to improve participation in GD round
    The above discussed topic is one of the most talked about issue; therefore it has been carefully chosen and solved with the sole aim to help you succeed in GD round. If you follow the few key tips, you can improve your chances to get through the GD round.

  • Initiate the group discussion only if you are well versed with the GD topic.
  • If you are not well versed with the topic and feel a bit low on content, try to gather information from first 1-2 speakers and then place your view point.
  • Quote facts and figures, if you are sure of the source else leave it. You may encounter volley of questions on the economic statistics, trade data or historical facts from your fellow participants. Unless very sure, don’t use it.
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