This is why PM Modi is writing letters to 100 million Indian families

New Delhi: Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) – world’s largest health insurance scheme has hit a hurdle as many of its 500 million beneficiaries don’t have a clue about it. Why? Because they didn’t have to enroll for it.

So, Prime Minister Narendra Modi looked for a solution to make his pet project a success. He is writing letters to 100 million families educating them about the benefits of the program, which automatically registered 40% of India’s population that make up the bottom of the population as per the socio-economic caste census data, said Vinod K. Paul, a member of NITI Aayog, the government’s policy think tank.

“It’s a big step toward access of services, it will change the health system by making costs rational,” said Paul, who’s the architect of the program that could influence Modi’s fate in national polls next year. “Many Jobs will be created. It will be a stimulus for growth,” he said in an interview at his New Delhi office on Wednesday.

PMJAY, also known as ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme, was launched on September 23 this year. Ever since, it has benefited 1,12,000 people and approved claims totaling Rs 1.4 billion ($20 million). The government expects to spend up to Rs 120 billion annually on premium payments.

The health protection program promises an annual cover of $6,818, and the entire hospitalisation cost is borne by the federal and state governments in the ratio of 60:40.

The program is based on cumulative learning from states schemes and global best practices, Paul said, adding the private sector is playing an active role in it. Half of the 15,000 hospitals that enrolled for the program are from the private sector. The government is going through another 49,000 applications from health institutions that want to be a part of the plan.

Spending on health pushed more than 52 million people below the poverty line in India, according to a 2017 World Health Organisation report. The world’s-fastest growing economy spends about 1% of its gross domestic product on healthcare and aims to increase it to 2.5% by 2025 but has to overcome challenges from poor health facilities.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)