Reforming healthcare for universal health coverage: “Ayushman Bharat,” India’s health insurance scheme

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Authors: Lakshmi Balraj and Helmut Brand
Page Range: 95-102
Published in: International Public Health Journal, 14#2 (2022)
ISSN: 1947-4989

Table of Contents

There are multiple small health insurance schemes throughout India. However, high out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditures, unaffordable and inequitable access to healthcare services still persist. In an attempt to address these pressing issues and achieve universal health coverage (UHC), a national health initiative named Ayushman Bharat (AB) was launched in September 2018, as a part of India’s National Health Policy 2017. AB has two main components, first, the health insurance scheme named the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM), which is also branded as ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana’ (PMJAY) and second, transforming the existing primary healthcare centers (PHC) under the control of State Governments. AB aims to transform nearly 150,000 PHCs to deliver comprehensive primary healthcare services across the country by 2022. PMJAY is designed to cover the costs of almost all secondary and many tertiary care procedures of about 40% of the total Indian population. For the first time, attempts have been made to provide affordable healthcare services to the population under a single common initiative in a big, democratic and diverse country like India. This paper provides an overview of the healthcare scheme. We have also analyzed some of its salient features and summarized them for an international audience which is inclusive of academics and public policy researchers.

Keywords: Ayushman Bharat, Health and wellness centers, India, Insurance, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, Universal health coverage