The government of Karnataka has opted to launch a universal health scheme named Arogya Bhagya. It is expected to help all citizens in the state by providing either subsidized or free health care. This facility would include emergency care and would be available at government hospitals as well as private facilities that are on the state government’s panel for this particular programme. The state government would be rolling out the programme from 1 November 2017. The state cabinet that met on 28 August under the aegis of Siddaramaiah, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, has already provided its consent to this particular programme. The programme is supposed to incorporate seven health care programmes that are already being run by the state government.
More details about the programme
The government has already set aside INR 869.4 crore for the programme. This is however only the annual cost for running the programme. While briefing the media on this issue, TB Jayachandra, the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister of Karnataka, stated that the programme will cover 1.4 crore households as per Category A. They will be able to get healthcare for free and would not need to pay anything for any treatment availed by them. This includes entities such as the following:
- Teachers from aided schools
- Anganwadi workers
- Unorganized labourers such as auto drivers, porters, rag pickers, mining workers, street vendors, construction workers, weavers, sanitation workers, and MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) workers
- SC (scheduled caste)/ ST (scheduled tribe)
- Animal bite victims
- Members of co-operative societies
- Government employees
The remaining people in the state have been classed under Group B. These people will get 30% of their healthcare expenses reimbursed by the state government.
Importance of 1 November
Incidentally, 1 November happens to be Karnataka Rajyotsava Day and thus a very special and auspicious occasion to launch such a beneficial programme. Among its various benefits, this programme is supposed to do away with any duplication in the release of funds for state-run healthcare programmes. The health cards are supposed to be linked to Aadhaar Cards.
It also needs to be remembered in this context that the assembly elections in the state are only a few months away and as such this scheme comes at a crucial juncture indeed. The scheme operates on the premise that each household has around five members. At present there are 6.5 crore people in the state. As per this calculation, 83% of the people in the state would not need to pay a farthing to get treated under this programme.
Programmes being integrated
The programmes that are being integrated under the scheme are enumerated below:
- Vajapeyi Arogyasri
- Jyothi Sanjivini
- Mukhyamantri Santhwana Harish scheme
- Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakrama
- Rajiv Arogya Bhaga
- Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana
Jayachandra has also stated that the 2.38 crore cooperative society members of the Yashaswini scheme would not need to pay anything in order to avail treatment under this programme. The programme would be available in both urban and rural areas. In the rural areas people in Category B would have to pay a yearly premium of INR 300 and for people in the urban areas belonging to the same category the yearly premium has been fixed at INR 700. The details of diseases that would come under the purview of this programme are yet to be revealed.