India’s health assurance plan will offer free medicines, diagnostics, insurance, and traditional medicine

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 03 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6023
  1. Ganapati Mudur
  1. 1New Delhi

India’s health ministry has pledged to expand healthcare insurance to cover all citizens and make available 80 essential drugs—including 30 selected from traditional or alternative systems of medicine—to be free of cost through government clinics across the country.

The two initiatives will be key components of a proposed Universal Health Assurance Mission that will also involve nationwide “preventive health information” campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles, the Indian health minister, Harsh Vardhan, said on Monday.

Vardhan said that the health assurance mission will also guarantee a package of select diagnostic tests in government health centres free of cost to cover common illnesses. The health ministry has not released the list of free medicines yet, but senior health officials have indicated that it will include a range of antimicrobials, analgesics, antipyretics, and drugs to treat asthma, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension.

About 310 million people among India’s population of 1.2 billion are currently covered by government or private health insurance schemes, but most insurance plans cover only tertiary healthcare services that require hospital admissions.

Public health …

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