Niti Aayog has been asked to rework on the budgetary framework of Ayushman Bharat scheme, also known as the National Health Protection Scheme, after the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) pointed out that implementation cost of the project under the current model will go up by almost double than initial estimation.  The think tank has asked  Niti Aayog to come up  with more “realistic” budget for the project.

Niti Aayog, which was entrusted to work on the framework of the programme, had suggested including private players in the scheme by paying them a fixed premium per policy. The initial budget was estimated at Rs 12,000 crore per year, which was calculated on the basis of paying the premium of Rs 1,000 per policy to the insurers.

Aayog, in a meeting with general insurers, including private insurance players, had said that Rs 1,000 premium is not sustainable for them in the long run and they stuck on Rs 2,500 of premium per policy to make the scheme viable. However if the government agrees to pay this premium, it will double the budget for the scheme, as pointed out by PMEAC.

Programme suggested by the Aayog

“There is a problem with the budget estimated for the programme suggested by the Aayog.  As per their current model the implementation cost will be more than double by the initial estimate which was presented by the Aayog in its initial presentation. The budget estimation has to be reworked and needs to be realistic. This is going to be a landmark project and it is important to have proper plan to implement is effective,” one of the members of PMEAC told TNIE.

Announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech, the Ayushman Bharat scheme plans to provide health cover Rs 5 lakh per family to 100 million families in India. The PMEAC has further pointed out that the model for the participation of private players is not well defined and asked Aayog to rework on the model.

“The Aayog had suggested the involvement of private players but there is no defined framework for them. There needs to be greater clarity. More consultation is required,” the member pointed out.

This is not the first time Niti Aayog was asked to do its homework again. Earlier, PMEAC had asked the Aayog to rework on their model for ensuring better MSP for farmers. However even after weeks of deliberation, it failed to come up with one comprehensive model and finally the Finance Ministry left it to states to choose their own model.