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Budget 2018: Jaitley announces ‘world’s largest healthcare programme’

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday announced two new initiatives under the Ayushman Bharat Programme in the Union Budget 2018.

Under the programme, Mr. Jaitley announced a new flagship National Health Protection Scheme, providing a health insurance cover of ₹5 lakh a family per annum. The scheme will cover 10 crore vulnerable families, with approximately 50 crore beneficiaries.

“We are slowly progressing towards universal health coverage,” Mr. Jaitley said, adding that the scheme would be the “world’s largest healthcare programme”.

Mr. Jaitley also announced the creation of health and wellness centres, which will “bring healthcare closer to home”. These centres, 1.5 lakh in number, will provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. A sum of Rs. 1200 crore had been allocated for this.