Government to launch Universal Health Assurance Mission
Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has announced that the government will introduce a universal health insurance programme under UHAM (Universal Health Assurance Mission). The programme will seek to provide all people access to tertiary medical services. In a country where only approximately 25% of the population is estimated to be covered by insurance, this step will go far in increasing insurance coverage and lowering premium rates.
An Expert Group headed by Dr.Ranjit Roy Chaudhary was formed to prepare a roadmap to UHAM. The group submitted its report in eight weeks and the report is now under consideration of the Health Ministry.
Projected Highlights of UHAM
- Set to be the largest public health insurance programme in the world, with free insurance for persons in BPL category and low premium rates for rest of the population
- 50 essential generic drugs, 30 AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) drugs and a package of diagnostics to be provided free of cost to all citizens at government hospitals and health centres across the country
- Package containing information regarding preventive and positive health information for all citizens
- UHAM Agency, an autonomous oversight body will be formed to monitor the activities and ensure genuine protection of the beneficiaries
Universal Health Coverage (UHC)
WHO defines UHC as “ensuring that all people can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.” UHC can be broken down into three main components
- Equity in access to healthcare – all persons, irrespective of their financial status, must be able to access healthcare
- The medical care provided must be of good quality and standard and should result in improvement of health of patients
- The cost of care must not be so expensive that it puts the seeker of medical help in financial hardship
Significantly, the Millennium Development Goals call for universal access to reproductive health and treatment for HIV/Aids. The WHO constitution of 1948 also declares health a fundamental human right.