Ayushman Bharat or Pradhan Mantri Jan Aayog Yojana (PMJAY) is a new nationwide healthcare scheme that is introduced by the central government for the underprivileged families. Specifically, PMJAY is a scheme that will benefit the people belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category.
PMJAY aims to help 1,00,000 families and provides them help by making medical assistance free up to Rs. 5,00,000 per year. Ayushman Bharat Yojana, thus, becomes a step towards a healthier India.
Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi had promised the nation that he would bring “achchhe din” or the good days, pointing towards a nation where there is no poverty, better administration and more employment. Ayushman Bharat Yojana seems to be a tool for the poor to fight with during the battle between quality medical aids and exorbitant fees.
Beginning of a Positive Change
The budget for Ayushman Bharat Yojana allotted to the Indian government is Rs. 5,000 crores which would benefit 1,00,000 families in the nation.
Each family that is eligible for this scheme has to register so as to enjoy the services provided by the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. The families which will be benefited from this scheme have to ensure that they fulfill the parameters such as no ownership of motorised vehicles, income less than Rs. 10,000, and so on. These parameters are set in order to ensure that financial help is given to the needy and underprivileged.
Just an Idea?
The issue of expensive healthcare services does not end here. There is one question that needs to be addressed first: are there only 1,00,000 families that require these services? The answer would be a ‘no’.
The poverty stricken population in India has reduced over the past few years, but it does not mean that it has ended. Besides, Rs. 5,00,000 per family per year may or may not be sufficient, considering the staggering doctor to patient ratio and the limited number of hospitals in the country, let alone the number of hospital beds.
How is it Different?
The Ayushman Bharat Yojana, though nationwide, is not the first healthcare scheme to be launched. There are many programmes which are introduced in states and are limited to people within state borders.
In Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, for instance, there is a Aarogyasri, that is operational for over 10 years and requires families to have an AAY Ration card or Annapurna card. Financial help would be provided to anyone who possesses the above mentioned cards, irrespective of their economic status unlike PMJAY.
Another example of a similar healthcare scheme is that of Odisha’s Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana, which offers Rs. 7 lakh to women as opposed to Rs. 5 lakh provided by the central government. While Ayushman Bharat Yojana aims to help families, this scheme is set for women only and offers Rs. 2 lakh more than what central government is providing.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh provide help to everyone and do not discriminate on the basis of economic status, and Odisha aims to help one gender and provides more funds as compared to PMJAY.
These differences make Ayushman Bharat Yojana seem slightly less powerful, but what this scheme provides is nationwide help to people who live in hopeless situations. This scheme is not limited to only state borders.
The Big Picture
While addressing the issue of less hospitals in India, another question that comes up is the number of doctors. WHO found that in India, there is only one doctor for about 11,000 patients and one hospital for over 55,000 people. India needs at least 5,00,000 more doctors to ensure that every citizen of the nation gets quality medical assistance.
Apart from this, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) also said that the scheme would only breed corruption. The cost of having quality medical assistance is high these days. Fitting that in a lesser amount in a year would mean lower quality standards and would pave the way for corrupt methods.
Besides, the requirement for doctors also needs to be fulfilled from within the country only. In order to become doctors, there needs to be quality education as well.
Implementation and Solution
When demonetisation was implemented in the country, the entire country was shaken and a deadline was set for the people to deposit their existing Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes in order to get new notes of denominations of Rs. 500 and Rs. 2,000.
A similar thing happened with Aadhar cards. Every citizen was asked to link their Aadhar cards to their bank through Know Your Customer. These changes took place successfully because the government left no stone unturned to ensure that the awareness was spread everywhere.
The issue now, with Ayushman Bharat Yojana, is that there is not the same kind of effort seen for this scheme’s implementation. This leaves the ‘eligible’ people completely unaware of the fact that there even exists a scheme that aims to help them.
The government must improve on their advertising methods in order to ensure that those who need this scheme are aware of its existence. Moreover, PMJAY is not necessary only for the people who have no hope when facing issues pertaining to medical fees. There are many people in India who are in an acute sense of despair because the cost of medicines, doctors’ fees, and the cost of hospital beds due to their limited availability keeps soaring. The government must include every citizen of the nation, like other governments of other countries. National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom is an example of one such inclusive healthcare scheme which benefits every citizen of the country and not just a select few.
Will it Work?
Having understood the working of the Ayushman Bharat Yojana or PMJAY, the question of whether the scheme would work and be beneficial to the public is going to be asked the most. The amount offered by the government for medical assistance is less as compared to the soaring prices of medical aids. Moreover, the medium of providing these services, that is, the insurance companies, only makes the scheme’s aim of reaching the people it is meant for more difficult.
PMJAY is just the first step towards a nationwide healthcare programme that may soon include every citizen of the country in the future. However, there are many flaws in the scheme at this point of time itself and it makes me wonder if Ayushman Bharat can sustain itself enough to improve in the future or if it is just a badly executed attempt by the government to ensure that medical fees don’t come in the way of a healthier India.
In my opinion, PMJAY is like a pipe dream that the government is seeing and is ensuring that country is seeing too.
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