New Delhi: Providing Rs 5 lakh cover for 10 crore people under the government's 'Ayushman Bharat' insurance scheme is an "ambitious" project but not an "impossible" one, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said today, noting that it would be a "humongous" task.
Speaking at FICCI's 'Post-Budget Talk' today, Goyal said that the government will use underutilised infrastructure to run the scheme.
"Rs 5 lakh cover for 100 million (10 crore) families is a huge amount and it will ensure that a person suddenly afflicted with cancer or suffering from some grave illness will not have to go to a moneylender and the government can ensure that he gets some free treatment. It is clearly an ambitious plan, but it is not impossible," Goyal said.
He said that the government has been talking to eminent people such as Dr Devi Shetty, who he said successfully delivered such a scheme in his Narayana Hrudayalaya (hospital chain).
"He executed this very well in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Basically creating an eco-system where economies of scale come in and patients are using facilities which are many times going idle.
"To my mind economies of scale can do wonders. It is a humongous task but that's what we have taken up. With sincerity of purpose and honesty we are sure we will be successful in this project," he said.
Goyal also said that the scheme does need infrastructure and the government plans to use existing infrastructure to augment the scheme.
"There is a lot of infrastructure which is under utilised like railways for example. We have 300 small and big health care facilities, its not as if they are busy all the time...Coal companies have health care facilities across the country...All this can be leveraged.
"Right now they are cocoons, run by the railways for the railways, when the common public start using it, actually they will ensure that these facilities are monitored," he said.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the flagship National Health Protection Scheme or Ayushman Bharat in Budget 2018-2019, under which Rs 5 lakh cover will be provided a year to 10 crore poor and vulnerable families in the country.
(With PTI inputs)