I happened to read a report that appeared in ToI yesterday which says that Indian Government is considering Free Medicine for all initiative, especially for poor and needy people. This scheme will be offered through Public Hospitals and health facilities across the country.
Prima Facie, this is an excellent initiative if Government is able to execute it well. To avail this facility, citizens will have to procure a National Health Entitlement card (NHEC), that will guarantee access to primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare fully funded by the Centre.
There will be fixed level of healthcare services under national health package offered by center, but state governments are free to add additional services. The health package will focus on the most common and high-impact healthcare requirements only.
From citizens perspective, they will not be able to avail additional services just by paying a difference. This is to ensure that people who can afford to pay from their pocket or with their insurance services do not take advantage of this initiative. This initiative is primarily targeted at people who cannot afford medical facilities or insurance to pay for healthcare.
Some countries like U.K have very similar model called NHS (National Health Service), where free medical facilities are provided to to their residents.
In India too, currently, comprehensive health care facilities are provided free of cost to the Central Govt. employees and pensioners and their dependents under “Central Government Health Scheme” (CGHS). Every person covered under this scheme has a CGHS card, that entitles them for free healthcare facilities. It looks like the proposed National Health Entitlement card (NHEC) will also be based on similar lines.
Panel setup for this purpose calculated that 52% of the patients across India will take benefit of this scheme. This scheme will put a additional load of Rs 28,675 crore during the 12th Plan period.
If implemented successfully, this new initiative will surely usher a new era in Indian Healthcare space!
What do you think?