During a speech to mark the country’s independence day on Wednesday, Modi said, “It is essential to ensure that we free the poor of India from the clutches of poverty due to which they cannot afford healthcare,” The Times of India reported.
The National Health Protection Mission—also known as “Modicare”—will give impoverished families health insurance coverage of up to $7,100 every year. This may not seem a lot by American standards, but in a country where annual per capita income is just over $1,900, it will make a massive difference to those who cannot afford private treatment.
Public hospitals in India offer free, but less sophisticated, care. The system is strained to the point of collapse, with hospitals struggling to secure enough beds and staff to care for the sick. The lack of access for rural communities—where 66 percent of Indians still live—forces people to travel many hours to reach urban facilities if they want treatment. This means the private medical sector cares for the majority of India’s patients, and charges them accordingly.