In a country where treatment can cost two years’ wages, a new project could mean free medical care for 500 million people
Rajiv Gupta has a distinct spring in his step. He has brought his mother to New Delhi from the northern state of Bihar for a hip replacement, for which he won’t have to pay. His mother qualified for free treatment under Ayushman Bharat, the government’s ambitious new health insurance scheme.
“I can’t quite believe this is happening. When the doctors in Bihar told me it would cost 200,000 rupees [£2,180], I took mum home. That kind of money is impossible for me. I just run a tiny sari shop. And now she’s getting it done here free,” says Gupta. Then he hurries off as though scared he has got it wrong and someone is going to present him with a bill.