New health scheme flawed: IMA

New Delhi

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has demanded a review of the Centre’s ambitious National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), saying it has “conceptual deficits and operational flaws”.

The doctors’ body said the rates quoted by the government for various procedures were abysmal and impractical and most do not cover even 30% of the costs.

“No hospital can work on these rates without seriously compromising patient safety. In the garb of cost-cutting, the government is exposing the people to danger in the hospitals. Caesarean sections underwritten for Rs. 9,000 cannot ensure safety of the mother and the child,” IMA national president Ravi Wankhedkar said. The IMA has demanded that the costing be transparent and in the public domain.

The association said the money allotted for the Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Scheme (AB-NHPS) would have better served the country if every district hospital was strengthened with an infrastructure of Rs. 2 crore each.

“The highly optic NHPS fails to create any new national asset. The same money invested in our public hospitals would have brought secondary and tertiary care closer to the poor in our government hospitals.

“In addition to non-creation of new public sector hospitals, the government will lose around Rs. 400 crore to private health insurance companies which will manage the scheme. The insurance-driven healthcare is a failed experiment,” Dr. Wankhedkar said.

IMA members said apart from such conceptual deficits, the operational flaws of the scheme would ensure it is a non-starter.

The IMA said the current policy change in India would only end up strengthening the insurance business.

“The IMA has suggested to the government that the NHPS be modelled as healthcare purchase directly from the provider hospitals, removing insurance companies and third party administrators. These intermediaries siphon off 40% of the budgeted money and are breeders of corruption and unethical practices,” IMA secretary general Dr. R.N. Tandon said.

Twenty States have so far signed MoUs with the Union Health Ministry to implement the government’s ambitious health protection mission, aiming to provide a cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family.

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