Interim Budget 2024: Ayushman Bharat Now Covers ASHA, Anganwadi Workers, Without A Specified Budget Allocation

Budget 2024: Healthcare accessibility is set to improve with the extension of Ayushman Bharat and the plan to establish hospitals in all districts.
Interim Budget 2024 Ayushman Bharat Now Covers ASHA
Interim Budget 2024 Ayushman Bharat Now Covers ASHA

Budget 2024 on Ayushman Bharat: Finance Minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman, in the Interim Budget 2024 on Thursday, announced that Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) will now cover all Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers, without any additional budget allocation. In the previous budget, Rs 7,200 crore was set aside for FY24. Additionally, a total of Rs 88,956 crore was allocated to the Health and Family Welfare Ministry for the same fiscal year. “Health care cover under Ayushman Bharat to be extended to all ASHA workers, all Anganwadi workers and helpers,” said FM in her Budget speech.

Parimal Heda, Chief Investment Officer, Digit General Insurance said, “The Interim Budget presented by the FM was in line with expectations and continuing on the path of fiscal consolidation. From an insurance sector perspective, there are various measures announced that will have a positive effect on the industry. The Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme is estimated to already cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families. Expanding the scope of the health coverage to all ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers, and helpers will bring an estimated over 3 million more workers to this fold, providing much-needed financial protection to the community health workers who were the frontline workers, especially during the Covid pandemic.”

“However, the scope of coverage under the health cover is currently Rs 5 lakh. Expanding the coverage to Rs 10 lakh in the future by the government will ensure that a large section of the society is adequately covered who currently resort to borrowing or selling their assets to meet their healthcare expenditure,” Heda added.

AB-PMJAY: The PM-JAY, also known as the Prime Minister's People's Health Scheme, is a national health insurance initiative by the Indian government. It provides free health insurance coverage to low-income individuals across the country, covering approximately the bottom 50 per cent of the population. Under this scheme, beneficiaries receive primary care services from their family doctor for free, and if additional care is needed, PM-JAY offers secondary and tertiary healthcare services without charge. Launched in September 2018 as part of the National Health Policy, PM-JAY is administered by the National Health Authority, established by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It is a means-tested program jointly funded by the central and state governments, aiming to serve 500 million people, making it the world's largest government-sponsored healthcare program. AB-PMJAY offers Rs 5 lakh coverage annually per family for hospitalization needs beyond primary care.

Moreover, according to the FM, a committee to be set up for more medical colleges health care cover under Ayushman Bharat to be extended to all Asha workers. There will be cervical cancer vaccination for girls in the age group of 9-14 years.

Sarbvir Singh, joint group CEO, PB Fintech, the parent company of Policybazaar and Paisabazaar said, “Financial inclusion in the truest sense can only happen when rural India is factored in. The government’s decision to amp up the AB-PMJAY in the Interim Budget 2024 is a step in the right direction. The recent extension of this scheme to ASHA and Anganwadi workers shows the government's commitment to empowering women and the underprivileged. This scheme aims to increase insurance penetration in the country and help achieve the goal of providing 'insurance for all by 2047.' This is in line with our vision of building a healthy and well-protected India with adequate insurance coverage.”

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