Skip to main content

Universal health coverage in China, Brazil, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Thailand, OECD "much larger" than Modicare

By Our Representative
Sharply contesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that the recently-launched public health insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), dubbed Modicare, is the world’s largest, renowned development economist Jean Drèze notes, PMJAY is nowhere comparable to “China’s health care system, with its universal coverage”, pointing out, “In per-capita terms, public expenditure on health in China is about five times higher than in India.”
In fact, says Drèze, “Many countries have already achieved universal heath care (UHC), or something very close to it – not only rich countries (including all the OECD countries with the notable exception of the United States) but also many developing countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Thailand.”
Known to be a close associate of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and is a visiting professor at the Department of Economics, Ranchi University, Drèze says in a commentary in a well-known news portal, the term “largest” presumably refers to the proposed population coverage of 50 crore or so, “but the wide coverage is achieved by reducing per-capita expenditure to a microscopic level.”
Noting that PMJAY is one of the two components of the Ayushman Bharat scheme, allocating just Rs 2,000 crore during fiscal 2018-19, Drèze says, this may appear to be double the previous year’s budget allocation of Rs 1,000 crore for Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, which PMJAY subsumes. However, it also suggests, “there is virtually no new money this year for PMJAY.”
Drèze says, “The government claims that PMJAY will provide a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh to 10 crore families (about 50 crore persons)”, wondering, “What would it actually take to provide this sort of insurance cover?”
According to Drèze, “If the beneficiaries spend just one per cent of their Rs 5 lakh quota in a year, on average, then the annual expenditure will come to Rs 50,000 crore. This is a very conservative estimate – if the scheme makes it reasonably easy for people to claim their insurance money, the actual cost could easily be twice as much, or more.”
Pointing out that “there is absolutely no indication that the government is willing to spend that sort of money on PMJAY”, Drèze says, while NITI Aayog experts “anticipate” that the annual PMJAY budget would rise to Rs 10,000 crore, even this is a “chickenfeed for the purpose of providing health insurance to 10 crore families. It comes to Rs 1,000 per family, or Rs 200 per person. For the whole year.”
He asks, “How would you feel if you were told you that your budget for health care this year is Rs 200?”, adding, “An illusion has been created that putting this money in an insurance premium has some sort of multiplier effect.”
Drèze explains, “Insurance can help to redistribute health expenditure towards those who need it most, but it cannot turn Rs 200 into more. If the government spends only Rs 200 per person on health insurance, that’s the amount of health care an average person gets, that too assuming that there are no transaction costs.”
As for another component of Ayusham Bharat, Drèze says, it is the creation of 1,50,000 “health and wellness centres”, with an allocation of Rs 1,200 crore in 2018-19. Pointing out that it comes to Rs 80,000 per centre, he says, “It is just a new coat of paint for the old primary health centres, which are being renamed for the occasion.

Comments

TRENDING

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

River interlinking to transfer tribals' drinking, irrigation water to Maharashtra industries

Counterview Desk
Top advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), recently submitted its comments on the Damanganga–Vaitarna-Godavari Intrastate Link project to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), a project sought to be packaged by the Maharashtra chief minister as diversion of water from allegedly water surplus Konkan region to the drought-affected Marathwada region.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

RSS 'demonizing' Muslim demographics: Hindus' growth rate decline 2.5% lower

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The RSS is riding its old hobbyhorse again. Addressing the Yuva Dampati Sammelan attended by reportedly 2000 young couples organized by the RSS’ Kutumb Prabhodan in Agra on August 21, the RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, apparently concerned about the “declining Hindu population” exhorted young Hindu couples to have more children.

Kashmirisation of India? Ayodhya communal harmony meet: Activists stopped, detained

Counterview Desk
In a joint statement, three civil rights organizations, Rihai Manch, National Alliance of People's Movements and Lok Rajniti Manch, and Socialist Party (India), have taken strong exception to the Uttar Pradesh government taking "preventive" steps against those seeking to hold a meeting on communal harmony at Ayodhya.