Thursday, June 17, 2021

A month on, Modi government’s Ayushman Bharat health plan needs more hospitals

New Delhi, November 2: The Modi government’s flagship health insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat — Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY), benefitted at least 1.2 lakh people in the month following its launch on September 23, 2018. Most people were, however, treated in relatively less expensive departments.
The top five specialties on the basis of number claims are oral and maxillofacial surgery, general medicine, ophthalmology, obstetrics and gynaecology and general surgery, and they show the progress update of the scheme for the period between September 23 and October 26.
“The scheme, in a way, is creating platforms for all priority diseases. A start has been made and eventually a system-level transformation is what we are looking at. Also, numbers are important as there may be one tumour surgery but several eye surgeries,” said Dr VK Paul, member, Niti Aayog.
The lack of adequate number of hospitals empanelled under AB-PMJAY is clearly apparent with just about 7,789 private hospitals treating patients under the scheme. The private hospitals are in the process of getting empanelled. So far, about 6, 340 government hospitals are providing treatment as they are empanelled by default.
“The need is to have at least 3,000 hospitals only in tier 2 and 3 cities, without which this scheme will not work. At the moment, tertiary care hospitals are concentrated in a few locations in a state and people are forced to refer patients to far-flung areas,” says Dr Girdhar Gyani, director general, Association of Healthcare Providers of India, and founder, National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH).
The Association of Healthcare Providers had a discussion with members of Niti Aayog last month to look for ways to set up hospitals and increase specialists.
“We need more private hospitals, especially in villages and remote areas, as public hospitals are already overloaded. We have made a few practical suggestions to attract private investment by way of facilitating land-acquisition clearances within a stipulated time frame, single-window clearance, soft loan and electricity at agriculture or industry rates, among other things,” said Dr Gyani.
Dr Paul agrees. “We need more hospitals, especially in tier 2-3 cities and underserved areas, and not just private but also expansion of public hospitals. We are working towards it,” he said.
“The draft is open for suggestions and our direction is very clear.” (Agencies)