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NHPS a big step towards universal healthcare: EAC-PM member

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: February 6, 2018  | 18:35 IST

New Delhi, Feb 6(PTI) The newly announced mega healthcare scheme is a very big step and will lead to universal healthcare coverage, Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister (EAC-PM) member Shamika Ravi has said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget 2018-19 had announced the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) to provide health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh to over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families.

"Its a Budget (2018-19) of continuity...We have to gradually move towards universal healthcare coverage. The National Health Protection Scheme(NHPS) is a very big step towards attaining universal healthcare coverage," Ravi told PTI.

Noting that many states had their healthcare schemes, she insisted that the NHPS should be seen as consolidating fragmented healthcare market and making it even stronger.

Ravi, also a senior fellow at Brookings India, expressed hope that in competitive insurance market, the government would get good premium and relatively competitive coverage.

Ravi, who leads the development economics research vertical at Brookings India, suggested that the government will also have to think of many non-budgetary means of financing for the schemes related to healthcare.

"We have to be creative in terms of instruments that we are going to depend on (for financing NHPS)," she said. Ravis statement assumes significance as recently Niti Aayog advisor Alok Kumar had said the mega healthcare scheme will cost up to Rs 12,000 crore annually.

Kumar had also said that premium for availing health insurance cover of up to Rs 5 lakh is expected to be around Rs 1,000-1,200 annually for every household, which will be borne by the Centre and the states.

"What information technology (IT) sector has done for India in 1990s and early 2000s, my feeling is that healthcare sector is going to do that in India in next 10-15 years. "That is because demand is there, the willing to pay is there, the biggest shortage right now is human resources, public and private by the way," Ravi said when asked whether the next years Budget will create jobs. PTI BKS MKJ

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