The announcement of the National Health Protection Scheme to cover 10 crore “vulnerable” families and provide them up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year in secondary and tertiary care institutions is one the key healthcare highlights in Budget 2018. While this is a laudable development, the Government will need to scope and plan the implementation with utmost diligence as it may cripple the existing limited medical infrastructure in the country.
First and foremost, it would be interesting to see how the Government intends to identify and define „vulnerable” – is it going to be based on health needs/ health index of a family index Or is it going to be based upon the socio-economic status as usual (which does askew the real picture overall – worth reviewing how many families from “middle to Rich SEZ” have a BPL (Below Poverty Line) Card!)
Secondly, Public sector accounts for only 30 per cent of the total healthcare expenditure in India, as compared to 42-58 per cent in Brazil, 58 per cent in China, 52 per cent in Russia, 50 per cent in South Africa, 48 per cent in USA and 83 per cent in UK as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports.
For this initiative (which largely addresses the affordability factor) to thrive, it is imperative for the Government to rapidly augment high quality medical facilities in the country OR create significantly ramped up Public Private Partnership models in healthcare to address the issues of accessibility and quality care provision. These PPPs should look into creating an ecosystem of health for the patients and should cover factors of Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Units/ Hospitals/ Health Centres with Insurance Companies also being a co-partner in these PPPs as well. The milieu thus created should enable seamless grassroot implementation of the grand healthcare vision‟ presented at Budget 2018.