I welcome the Union Budget, which has announced the provision of health insurance of up to one hundred thousand rupees per family, with an additional top up of thirty thousand rupees applicable for senior citizens. While it is heartening to know that the government will focus on reducing both out of pocket and catastrophic medical expenditure, we hope similar attention will be paid to primary care and preventive packages under this announcement. These are also a source of out of pocket expenditure.
Provision of free preventive and primary care forms the backbone of a successful universal health coverage model. Health insurance coverage that goes beyond a pure hospitalisation programme and takes into account investment in essential and cost-effective interventions, such as preventive and primary care activities, demonstrates value for money of scarce financial and human resources.
Additionally, the announcement of a National Dialysis Service to address the high costs involved in renal dialysis and the opening of three thousand Jan Aushadhi stores across the country are a step forward toward providing improved health benefits to all, especially the economically weak strata of the population.
Budget’s proposal to set up three thousand medicine shops in rural areas and insurance scheme for senior citizens is noteworthy.