Testing & Treatment For COVID-19 Free For 50 Crore Indians Under Ayushman Bharat Scheme

by Gizel Menezes
Testing & Treatment For COVID-19 Free For 50 Crore Indians Under Ayushman Bharat Scheme

With an objective to increase the supply of COVID-19 testing and treatment facilities to include the poor and vulnerable sections of society, the Government, in a significant move, has announced that 50 crore Indians covered under the Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PM JAY) will be eligible for COVID-19 testing and treatment, free of cost.

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As Per NHA, 50 Crore Indians Eligible For Free COVID-19 Testing And Treatment

While the Centre has already recruited several private labs to boost coronavirus testing facilities across the country, there were huge concerns that the poor and marginalised would not be able to afford private labs as the cost per test is steep.

Therefore, in a much-needed step, the National Health Authority (NHA) in a statement on Saturday announced that testing and treatment for COVID-19 will be done free of cost for Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries at private laboratories and empanelled hospitals in the country.

“Testing and treatment of COVID-19 is already available for free in public facilities. Now, more than 50 crore citizens, eligible under the health assurance scheme will be able to avail free testing through private labs and treatment for COVID-19 in empanelled hospitals,” NHA said in the statement.

The statement further mentioned that hospitals which are empanelled under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme can use their authorised testing facilities or tie-up with another authorised testing facility. The tests are to be carried out as per the protocol set by Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and by private labs approved or registered by ICMR. Similarly, the treatment for COVID-19 by private hospitals will also be covered under AB-PMJAY.

The NHA is the apex agency of the Government of India responsible for the design, roll-out, implementation and management of the AB-PM JAY scheme, which is considered to be the world’s largest state-sponsored health insurance scheme.

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Involving Private Sector Essential

Commenting on this initiative, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said, “In this unprecedented crisis we have to very actively involve the private sector as a key partner and stakeholder in the fight against COVID-19. Making testing and treatment available under Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY will significantly expand our capacities by including private sector hospitals and labs and mitigate the adverse impact of this catastrophic illness on the poor.”

This decision, while making it easier for the poor to access COVID-related medical care, is also expected to attract more private sector players for providing testing and treatment for the novel coronavirus. As there is a continuous surge in the number of COVID-19 patients in India, private sector involvement is sure to become critical in the coming days. Currently, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has crossed 4000 with 109 reported deaths.

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