In the recent Union Budget 2018-‘19, the BJP government announced a national health scheme with little or no allocation for the next 12 months. This is a scheme which will cost between Rs 50,000 crores and Rs 1 lakh crore annually. They want us to believe that it will only costs Rs 10,000 crore – which of course is exactly what you would expect politicians seeking elections to tell you. Just like the promise Rs 15 lakh for every poor person and the promise of 100 new cities, this too is a lie.
Let’s do the arithmetic.
They say that they will cover 10 crore poor families to the extent of Rs 5 lakh. Let’s say this is to be given only once. Let’s also assume the health incident can happen once in the next 20 years. The government (meaning the taxes we pay) then will have to pay Rs 5 lakh once to every poor family in the next 20 years, ignoring inflation for argument’s sake. So the annual cost of this scheme works out to: 10 crore x Rs 5 lakh / 20 years = 10 crore * 25,000 = Rs 2.5 lakh crore.
One may say that that this is insurance, and not everyone will benefit from it. Wrong. It is almost 100 percent certain that every family will have at least one health care incident in 20 years. Also let us not forget that the actual mechanics of identifying the 10 crore families will itself be a huge bureaucratic exercise and almost certainly a source of corruption.
Possibilities of corruption?
We have seen this in the past government schemes. A friend recently told me how married women dress as widows once a month to get the benefits of the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme. (I didn’t know of this scheme, did you?) The money is divided between the administrators and the cheating beneficiaries.
And yet we think corruption in a scheme as open-ended and massive as this health scheme will not happen? Corruption is bound to happen, and in fact it is precisely for the reason that politicians will make huge amounts that this scheme is being proposed. But of course, by the time, this all comes to light, the next election would have been done and won.
You can read Part 2 of the National Health Scam article here.