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Free health care for India’s poor
By Michelle Robertson
In a bid to give the poorest people of India basic health care, the government has declared that they will pay for around 500 million citizens to be covered by private health insurance. This is the largest government health plan of its kind in the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi says that he wants to improve the country´s health so that together they can “reach our full potential”. The current situation is dire with public hospitals strained to the point of collapse, and medical costs contributing to the poverty that plagues India.
The new National Health Protection Mission – also known as “Modicare” – will give impoverished families private health insurance coverage to ensure that they have access to more immediate attention. The other side of this coin is that India has been promoting itself as a low cost health care tourism destination. As a result the private health care sector is booming, and this new program is also aimed at making it even stronger. The government had a choice of either paying for private insurance for the poor, or investing in free government run health care. By deciding to pay for private insurance, rather than investing in public hospitals, they hope to encourage investors to build even more private medical centres to meet the extra demand.