British Prime Minister David Cameron was effectively leading a double-life. In 2005, he assumed the leadership of the traditionally Euro-skeptic Conservative Party. The Conservatives have always been uncomfortable with unelected bosses in Brussels making important decisions on behalf of Britain. The European Union and its jumble of regulations, in their reckoning, were putting fetters on the high ambitions of a business-oriented Britain.
Universal health coverage of all Nepalis is a brilliant idea. It appears realistic too. Since 2012, the government has been piloting the scheme in three districts—Ilam, Kailali and Baglung—to great success. The success of the pilot program is the reason it is being expanded to 25 districts this year, with the goal of covering all 75 districts within three years, as announced by Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel in his recent budget speech. As per the model, each family will have to pay a monthly premium of Rs 2,500 in return for which it will be eligible for treatment worth Rs 50,000 should one of the family members fall sick. Since the state has already heavily subsidized treatments of nine major health aliments—heart disease, kidney-related disease and cancer among them—it means that no Nepali will be deprived of healthcare. This will be the case since the government will also pay the premiums of the families living below the absolute poverty line, the elderly, the disabled and even those who were displaced by last year's earthquakes.
This is terrific news. It, however, does not mean that the road to universal healthcare for all Nepalis will be free of challenges.