The national health protection scheme would attract the participation of big private hospitals as it offered a business opportunity of serving 40 percent of the country’s population, Ayushman Bharat Chief Executive Officer Indu Bhushan said. The central scheme, which is to be launched on September 25, would also drive private players to open hospitals in rural areas which were not happening earlier, he said. Ayushman Bharat scheme, touted as the world’s largest healthcare scheme, aims at providing a coverage of Rs five lakh per family annually, benefiting more than 10 crore poor families. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day address, has said his government will launch on September 25 the ambitious scheme which aims at benefiting 50 crore people.
“We are in talks with a few private hospitals to be part of the scheme. A very few have already shown interest… I think the private hospitals will not want to miss the business opportunity of rendering services to 40 percent of the country’s population,” Bhushan told PTI. Replying to a question about the participation of private hospitals, including corporate hospitals, he said such hospitals hitherto did not venture into rural areas since people there could not afford the high cost of treatment. But, the Ayushman Bharat scheme would ‘hypothetically’ encourage setting up of private hospitals because the government would make the payments, instead of poor people, he said. On tackling the problem of inadequate infrastructure, including government hospital beds, in implementing the scheme, Bhushan said only two lakhs would be needed, assuming very large usage.
“With 2 percent hospitalization, about one crore people will need assistance. One bed can cover about 50 people a year. Therefore, the overall number is not a problem,” he said. Distribution of beds would be a problem, he added. Asked whether they have the data to figure out the areas where there was a dearth of hospitals, Bhushan replied in the positive and said the health ministry was trying to map public hospitals across the country. “Yes, we do not have numbers, we have a bit of an idea of where the gaps are by knowing the socio-economic status and supply of services in such districts and blocks,” he stated. Bhushan said different states were having various schemes to increase supply of hospitals in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Uttar Pradesh has a scheme to encourage public-private partnership model, he said.
On measures to prevent potential frauds, he said in order to ensure hospitals do not enrol a non-eligible person as a beneficiary, the patient’s Aadhar and biometrics have to be matched. For this to happen, hospitals should have the requisite hardware, space and adequate human resources. Replying to a query, he said UIDAI Chairman and former IT Secretary J Satyanarayana was helping the Ayushman Bharat team in creating a robust IT platform for implementing the healthcare scheme. – Medical Dialogues