Government’s health insurance scheme is a complete failure, finds study
Mumbai city news: The study showed till 2014, only 11% of the BPL families were registered under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojanamumbai Updated: Jun 05, 2017 00:48 IST
The Central government’s health insurance scheme, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), is a ‘complete failure’, according to a study by researchers at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Deonar.
RSBY was introduced in 2008 to provide health insurance coverage up to Rs30,000 to below poverty line (BPL) families. It provides for cashless insurance for hospitalisation in public and private hospitals.
While the government now ambitiously plans to leverage this scheme to a bigger platform, under the National Health Protection Scheme, the findings of this study show that it has fared poorly across the nation since its inception.
Scepticism around RSBY arose because there was no evidence on the effectiveness of the programme, said Dr Soumitra Ghosh, assistant professor, school of health systems studies, and the lead author of the paper.
The findings were published in the academic journal Economic and Political Weekly.
The study showed till 2014, only 11% of the BPL families were registered under the scheme.
For example, the enrollment percentage was 3.65% and 6.27% for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, two most populous states that account for more than one-third of poor households in India.
Another worrisome finding was that the scheme has had no significant impact on the cost of outpatient services which significantly burden patients financially compared to inpatient services.
Outpatient services, the single largest contributor of out-of-pocket health expenditure, are covered under the scheme. This , said Ghosh, would reduce people’s health bill.
One of the reasons behind no significant reduction in out-of-pocket health expenses for insured families was that patients were often asked to buy medicines and diagnostics, the author added.
He said that the findings had serious implications at the policy level as the government planned to expand the scheme in the coming months to achieve universal health coverage.
Ghosh further added, “The global experience on insurance unequivocally suggests that a private health insurance (publicly or privately funded)... system is not aligned with the interests of patients. It does not solve the problems of access and inequity in health care, though it serves commercial interests of insurance companies and private corporate hospitals.”