Uniform health insurance not enough for India

For universal healthcare in India multiple elements must be added with health insurance, say economists


Sonal Matharu | December 17, 2010

A monochromatic health insurance scheme may not serve a country as big as India, the medical council of India governing body member Ranjit Roy Chaudhury said here on Thursday. He added that there is a need to bring in  risk-pooling schemes and health saving accounts for better healthcare penetration in the country.

“The reach of healthcare to the poor, the migrants and the tribals in the country is very poor. We are also not able to replicate the success stories and include them in the national programmes,” he said at a conference organised by Aspen Institute India.

Chaudhury added that the government is planning to introduce a course for doctors who will be trained in and be serving in the rural areas. Literate women registered as Ashas with the government are doing a great job on the ground but there is a need for specialised hospitals at the district level, he stressed.

Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government professor on public policy Amitabh Chandra said, “Measuring quality of healthcare in hospitals can be a big challenge, especially in government hospitals in India which handle a large part of healthcare delivery.” 

A way towards quality healthcare facilities, he said, can be through private sector franchising clinics in and outside the cities. On wider coverage of health insurance he said, “There should be disability loss allowance for the poor seeking healthcare. They should be compensated for the loss of their wages instead of selling health insurance to them.”

For reaching out to larger sections of the country, economist David Cutler said that the government should follow a system of incentives for the doctors, nurses and the patients. “Incentives have been a success in countries faring worse than India in healthcare and compliance to such schemes is much high,” he said.




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