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To qualify for the National Health Insurance Program, families must meet certain criteria and generally earn less than about $100 a year.
The smart card, which contains personal data and fingerprints for an entire family, costs participants less than $1 -- what could be a day's pay for a casual laborer. The fee is intended to make sure beneficiaries value the program and take time to understand it, and it creates an obligation on the part of the government to deliver. The card is good at any hospital, private or public, that has enrolled.
India has earmarked $1 billion for the rollout of the program by insurance companies in states across the country. The program isn't expected to fund itself -- it will be bankrolled by the government because the beneficiaries are so poor.