Geographies in Depth

India's PM Narendra Modi has launched health insurance for 100 million families

A woman walks across a field on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, India, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Saumya Khandelwal     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1BF4004760

India spends only about 1 percent of its GDP on public health. Image: REUTERS/Saumya Khandelwal

Manoj Kumar
Writer, Reuters
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Geographies in Depth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how India is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the world’s biggest healthcare program on Sunday, aiming to provide free health services to half a billion poor people, which could boost his chances in national elections early next year.

The scheme, which the government dubs “Modicare”, will provide 100 million families, or about 500 million poor people, with health cover of 500,000 rupees per year for free treatment of serious ailments.

The measures are Modi’s latest attempt to reform a public health system that faces a shortage of hospitals and doctors. The government has also in recent years capped prices of critical drugs and medical devices and increased health funding.

But critics say the scheme has been launched in a hurry for political gain and lacks adequate funds to support it.

India spends only about 1 percent of its GDP on public health, among the world’s lowest, and the health ministry estimates such funding leads to “catastrophic” expenses that push 7 percent of the population into poverty each year.


“This is the world’s biggest healthcare scheme, benefiting more than the combined population of the United States, Canada and Mexico,” Modi said after launching the nation-wide plan from Ranchi, the capital of the eastern state of Jharkhand.

No separate registration would be required for the scheme and the people could check online whether they were eligible, Modi said.

Vinod K Paul, a senior official at the NITI Aayog told Reuters in an interview last week the benefits would be available at hundreds of empanelled private hospitals as well.

“India’s health system is never going to be the same. It’s a turning point,” he said. Private hospitals and pharmaceutical companies expect the plan would boost their business.

The scheme has been called a “game changer” by the chairman of India’s Apollo Hospitals Enterprise, Prathap Reddy, while Jefferies analysts have said companies such as Healthcare Global Enterprises and Narayana Hrudayalaya are likely to benefit.

Have you read?

The plan will be initially rolled out in 27 states, where the federal government will bear 60 percent of the costs and 40 percent would be born by state governments.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Geographies in DepthHealth and Healthcare SystemsSustainable Development
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

EU falling short of digital transformation goals, new report finds

David Elliott

July 19, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum