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Telangana Way Ahead in Healthcare

The recent launch of the centre’s Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme has led to a lot of debate over its non-implementation in Telangana. The decision to not participate in the Ayushman Bharat scheme might have raised some eyebrows but the fact remains that Telangana already has a highly evolved and respected universal health coverage scheme in the form of the Arogyasri Health Insurance Scheme. The Aarogyasri universal health scheme covers a whopping 80 lakh families in Telangana. The insurance coverage to each family varies between ₹2 lakh and ₹13 lakh and in some specialized therapies, there is no limit for insurance coverage.

Through various health schemes like ESI, Employee and Journalists Health Scheme (EHS/JHS), health insurance for Singareni employees and others, the State government is providing health coverage to another 20 lakh families, which amounts to a total of 1 crore families in Telangana. In stark contrast, the Ayushman Bharat scheme envisages coverage of only 26 lakh families in the State with a cut-off insurance coverage of just ₹5 lakh. Senior health officials here have questioned the logic of tinkering with an already successful universal health scheme and adopting in its place a yet-to-be-tested health insurance scheme, which is bound to have initial hiccups. Ayushman Bharat will throw up technical issues.

Hyderabad: The state government’s annual outlay of expenditure towards Telangana Universal Health Protection Scheme is far higher than that of Ayushman Bharat. In fact, the State’s scheme incurs an annual expenditure of ₹2000 crore towards insurance coverage to cross-section of the population. The Ayushman Bharat in Telangana has an annual expenditure of around ₹264 crore to cover 26 lakh families while already the State is incurring an expenditure of ₹782.7 crore towards the implementation of the Aarogyasri scheme. Overall, including Aarogyasri, EHS, JHS, Singareni, ESI, Aarogyabhadratha scheme, CM Relief Fund and State and Central schemes, the State government incurs an expenditure of ₹2000 crore every year to provide insurance coverage to 1 crore families, as part of Telangana Universal Health Protection Scheme.

The health authorities here also point out that there will be a lot of confusion in isolating 26 lakh families for Ayushman Bharat out of the existing 80 lakh families who are already availing Aarogyasri scheme. “This would create a lot of operational and technical difficulties because the entire software architecture of Aarogyasri has to be modified. There is no logic in tinkering with a tried-and-tested system, which is under implementation for over a decade,” authorities here argue.

Wide coverage for ailments

While the ailments that will be covered under Ayushman Bharat are yet to be ascertained, Aarogyasri provides a wide coverage of medical ailments. In fact, Aarogyasri also covers medical conditions that need highly specialized medical care, including organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, dialysis and a clutch of procedures for heart ailments.

NITI Aayog praises Aarogyasri

Before coming up with the software for implementing Ayushman Bharat, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has studied the entire software architecture of Aarogyasri. In fact, the State health authorities had given free access to the entire software data related to Aarogyasri to NITI Aayog team of senior public health experts who had visited Hyderabad. – Telangana Today