Union Budget 2016-17: Centre to provide Rs 1 lakh per family health cover

New Delhi: The Centre will launch a new health protection scheme under which a cover up to Rs one lakh per family will be provided bedsides opening around 3,000 medical stores across the country to provide quality medicines at affordable prices.

In the back drop of emergence of around 2.2 lakh patients of End Stage Renal Disease in India every year and resulting in additional demand for 3.4 crore dialysis sessions, the government will also initiate a National Dialysis Services Programme to provide dialysis services in all district hospitals.

"A serious illness of family member(s) causes severe stress on the financial condition of poor and economically weak families, shaking the foundation of their economic security.

"In order to help such families, the government will launch a new health protection scheme which will provide health cover up to rupees one lakh per family," Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while unveiling the Budget 2016-17 in Parliament today. He said that for senior citizens, who are 60 years of age and above, an additional top-up package up to Rs 30,000 will be provided.

Observing that making quality medicines available at affordable prices has been a "key challenge", Jaitley said the government will "reinvigorate" the supply of generic drugs by opening 3,000 stores under Prime Minister Jan Aushadhi Yojna.

"Making quality medicines available at affordable prices has been a key challenge. We will reinvigorate the supply of generic drugs. 3,000 stores under Prime Minister's Jan Aushadhi Yojana will be opened during 2016-17," he said.

Jaitley noted that with approximately 4,950 dialysis centres in the country, largely in the private sector and concentrated in the major towns, the demand is only half met.

"Every dialysis session costs about Rs 2,000 leading to an annual expenditure of more than Rs 3 lakh. Besides, most families have to undertake frequent trips, often over long distances to access dialysis services, incurring heavy travel costs and loss of wages.

"Under the National Dialysis Services Programme, funds will be made available through PPP Mode to provide dialysis services in all district hospitals," he said.

The Union Finance Minister also proposed to exempt certain parts of dialysis equipment from basic customs duty, excise or Countervailing Duty (CVD) and Special Additional Duty (SAD).

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