A scheme that offers cashless hospitalisation up to Rs 5 lakh per family to those who cannot afford private healthcare will be showcased by the state government as one of its main achievements at the Bengal Global Business Summit that starts Tuesday.
The two-day summit will have multiple sessions on healthcare, including one on “Opportunity for multilateral business partnership in healthcare for accessible, affordable, and inclusive healthcare in WB”.
Ahead of the summit, the state government has launched a campaign on Swasthya Sathi, advertising its benefits on billboards and flexes put up across the city.
“Swasthya Sathi covers 85 million people, providing up to Rs 500,000 in universal health insurance,” says the campaign banners.
The scheme, launched by chief minister Mamata Banerjee in December 2016, helps around 7,000 people get treated at around 2,500 private hospitals and nursing homes every day, said state government officials.
Apart from being highlighted as a social benefit initiative, the scheme will also be showcased as the government’s investment to boost private healthcare.
“The state is now spending around Rs 3,000 crore every year to reimburse private healthcare institutes for treating beneficiaries of the scheme,” said an official. “This has helped many small and medium healthcare institutes expand in Bengal.”
The head of one private hospital said the scheme is “more comprehensive” compared with similar health schemes in other states and the payment is faster. He, however, stressed the need for the rates to be revised.
“The Swasthya Sathi scheme reflects the state government’s commitment towards social welfare for the people of Bengal. It is also a market stimulus project providing opportunities for assured augmentation of infrastructure in the private sector,” said a senior official of the state government.
“Many hospitals have acquired smaller facilities where they mostly admit Swasthya Sathi patients. Also, medium and small healthcare institutes are investing because they have certain amount of assured income from the government (through reimbursement of treatment cost under Swastha Sathi),” said another official.
“No doubt it is a good opportunity in healthcare and is the way of the future because volumes are high and it enables a larger section of society to benefit. We request the state government a revision of reimbursement charges for making it more attractive to investors,” said Nandakumar Jairam, chairman of Medica Group of Hospitals, where the Singapore-based global investment company Temasek has a majority stake.
“There are such schemes in other states, but Swasthya Sathi is more comprehensive and payment is faster.”
The CEO of a private hospital said Swasthya Sathi is viable for hospitals with 100 beds and nursing homes.
“It is not viable for bigger hospitals to make further investments for Swasthya Sathi beds at this moment because of higher demand for beds for patients not covered by the scheme,” he said.
“Smaller facilities handle patients in need of primary and secondary care. Those requiring tertiary care prefer superspeciality hospitals. The gap in demand can be overcome through the Swasthya Sathi scheme for the smaller hospitals.” Telegraph India