Three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Red Fort asked for the full penetration of over half-a-dozen key government schemes to all beneficiaries, the National Health Authority (NHA) laid out a ambitious plan for a bigger roll-out of Ayushman Bharat Scheme to cover more beneficiaries this year.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, since taking over in June, has been pressing upon officials for massive acceleration of the scheme in line with the PM’s vision of providing free health insurance of Rs 5 lakh to over 50 crore beneficiaries in the country. In a presentation to the Minister on Wednesday as the scheme completed 2 crore hospital admissions and 12 crore beneficiaries having Ayushman Bharat cards after three years since the scheme began in 2018, the NHA has now said it aims to deliver 10 crore Ayushman Bharat cards in this financial year and extend free hospitalization benefit to 50 lakh people in a quarter.
This is a big target as it has taken the government three years to distribute Ayushman Bharat cards to 12 crore beneficiaries so far. Till the end of last year in fact, only 7.87 crore Ayushman Bharat cards had been distributed before a three-month campaign was launched at the start of 2021. There is still a long way to go as there are 53 crore possible beneficiaries of the scheme as per the Socio-Economic Census of 2011. The Minister was told that the NHA plans to issue cards to a total of 10 crore beneficiaries in this financial year (21-22) by launching a mass campaign, taking the total numbers of issued cards by March next year to 19 crore.