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Ayushman Bharat Health Cover to be Extended to ASHA & Anganwadi Workers: FM

Written by : Jayati Dubey

February 1, 2024

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This expansion aims to ensure that these essential frontline workers in the healthcare system receive comprehensive health coverage, acknowledging their critical role in community health and awareness.

In a significant move, the Government of India announced its decision to expand health coverage under the Ayushman Bharat scheme to include Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers and Anganwadi workers and helpers.

The announcement was made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the Union Budget 2024-25 in the Lok Sabha. There was no specific budget allocation for this purpose. However, in the last budget, FM Sitharaman allocated INR 7,200 Cr for FY24. The Health and Family Welfare Ministry received a total allocation of INR 88,956 Cr in FY24.

Finance Minister Sitharaman stated, "The health cover under the Ayushman Bharat scheme will be extended to all ASHA and Anganwadi workers and helpers."

This expansion aims to ensure that these essential frontline workers in the healthcare system receive comprehensive health coverage, acknowledging their critical role in community health and awareness.

Ayushman Bharat: National Health Protection Scheme

Ayushman Bharat, also known as the National Health Protection Scheme, is a flagship healthcare initiative by the Indian government. The scheme is designed to provide health coverage to over 10 Cr poor and vulnerable families, encompassing approximately 50 Cr beneficiaries.

Under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, eligible families receive coverage of up to INR 5 Lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation. Eligible beneficiaries in implementing states and Union Territories are entitled to receive cashless services.

The scheme encompasses over 30.6 Cr poor and vulnerable families. Senior citizens and disabled individuals meeting the eligibility criteria can benefit from the scheme. Since its launch in 2018, the scheme has successfully facilitated about 6.2 Cr hospital admissions, amounting to more than INR 79,157 Cr.

It is here to note that the AB PM-JAY scheme operates on a wholly cashless and paperless system. Beneficiaries can access treatment through predefined packages, and empanelled healthcare providers are reimbursed based on specified health benefit packages with standardised rates.

Role of ASHA Workers in Community Health

Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers play a crucial role in community health by acting as trained female health activists selected from the local villages.

They are equipped with knowledge and resources to deliver first-contact healthcare services to the community. ASHA workers are instrumental in creating awareness of health-related issues, mobilising communities for local health planning, and ensuring increased utilisation of health services.

ASHA workers serve as promoters of good health practices and provide a minimum package of curative care as appropriate for their level of training. They focus on community engagement, providing information on health determinants, offering counseling on maternal and child health, emphasising the importance of safe delivery, and promoting preventive healthcare practices.

Consolidation of Maternal & Child Healthcare Schemes

As part of a broader strategy to enhance healthcare services, the finance minister announced the consolidation of all maternal and child healthcare schemes into a single comprehensive scheme. This integration is expected to streamline healthcare initiatives related to maternal and child well-being, providing a more unified and practical approach.

The Indian government has also decided to elevate the target for the Lakhpati Didi scheme, increasing it from INR 2 Cr to INR 3 Cr. The Lakhpati Didi scheme focuses on empowering women economically by promoting entrepreneurship and financial inclusion. This financial boost aims to catalyse the economic independence of women beneficiaries under the scheme.

The government's decision to extend Ayushman Bharat's health coverage to ASHA and Anganwadi workers reflects a commitment to strengthen healthcare access for frontline workers and vulnerable populations.

This inclusive approach aligns with broader efforts to enhance the efficiency and impact of healthcare schemes, ensuring comprehensive coverage for maternal and child health while empowering women economically through initiatives like the Lakhpati Didi scheme.

As India continues its journey toward universal healthcare, these strategic measures contribute to a more integrated and responsive healthcare system.


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