2,000 under treatment, 3,000 tested free for Covid-19 under Ayushman Bharat scheme
In a month-and-a-half since coronavirus (Covid-19) treatment was made free under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY), at least 2,000 people were either treated or have been currently undergoing treatment for the viral disease. This is when the total number of people having been treated under the world’s largest public health insurance scheme reached 10 million since its launch in September 2018.
At least 3,000 persons have also been tested cashless for Covid-19 under the scheme.
The National Health Authority (NHA), which is the implementing authority of the scheme, has empanelled about 1,500 additional hospitals under the scheme in the past month to meet the load of Covid-19 patients, the authority announced on Wednesday.
“We want to be prepared in case there is a surge in cases. As of now, the public sector is taking care of much of the load but if there’s an unusual increase then we would need private sector hospitals also to chip in. We are currently on a drive to add more hospitals to the list. We have created separate Covid-19 treatment packages also as treating these patients requires isolation, PPE kits, extra manpower etc,” said Indu Bhushan, chief executive officer, NHA (Ayushman Bharat).
The authority is in the process of also adding private laboratories for Covid-19 testing that have been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research. The rate packages are being used from the already existing category related to respiratory illnesses, severe acute respiratory infection, influenza-like illness with aggravated symptoms etc. India currently has 61,149 active Covid-19 cases.
“Responding to the outbreak of Covid-19, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has made the testing and treatment for Covid-19 free of cost under the AB PMJAY scheme for all its 53 crore beneficiaries. 2,132 people have availed the treatment or are currently undergoing treatment for Covid-19 under AB PMJAY in the country,” read the National Health Authority (NHA) statement.
The NHA teams are also reaching out to its elderly (above 60 years of age) and other high-risk category beneficiaries (who recently received treatment) to check if any of them has Covid-19 symptoms and needs testing through its call entre that is handled by about 700 dedicated operators.
Close to 30 million calls have already been made to the scheme beneficiaries through this call centre.
“Our aim was to call up all of the beneficiaries who are above 60 years, recently received treatment and those who have co-morbidities because these are the people at high risk. Our call centre is running 24x7,” said Bhushan.
The call centre is also being used to get in touch with people identified at potential risk of contracting the infection by the Aarogya Setu mobile application, to caution them so that they strictly follow the preventive measures. Close to 6 lakh people have been contacted and 15,000 teleconsultations have been facilitated with doctors in the past couple of months.
The NHA has empanelled 21,565 hospitals under the scheme, of which 1,385 hospitals have been empanelled across the country since April 1. A total of 1,310 hospitals are through the regular empanelment route and remaining 75 under express empanelment. Of the total hospitals on board, nearly 58% per cent are private hospitals.
“To increase the number of hospitals providing Covid-19 treatment and to ensure continued treatment such as haemodialysis, cardiovascular procedures, and chemotherapy for non-Covid-19 critical illnesses, the NHA has started an express empanelment mechanism.”
The NHA is also launching a hospital ranking dashboard to rank empanelled hospitals on the basis of beneficiaries’ feedback. “The ranking will help the NHA to take evidence-based decision-making for enhancing the quality measures and indicators of healthcare delivery across all empanelled facilities to further improve the beneficiaries’ experience,” it said in a statement.