11th March – AB-PMJAY

A health scheme sans clout

Mainstreaming transformative technologies in the healthcare ecosystem and boosting innovation in delivery are a major focus under the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) — with the three intentions of containing costs, improving care quality, and bridging existing gaps in service provision.

Health expenditure –

A 15th Finance Commission report estimated that total costs for AB-PMJAY in 2019, taking then levels of hospitalisation rates and expenditure and assuming full coverage, would range between ₹28,000 crore and ₹74,000 crore, with projections for 2023 being more than double this range.

Indigenous solutions –

  • The healthcare technology start-ups showcase an impressive range of solutions but not all of them can promise substantial system-level impact in terms of aspects like cost control.
  • Multiple sporadic but successful precedents of healthcare innovations already exist in India. These include, for example, thorough standardisation of hospital procedures.
  • Reducing costs through robust procurement systems for supplies; cost minimising-substitutions like using generic medicines; and work-profile alteration of existing human resources are other possible avenues of bringing innovation without adversely affecting quality.

Way forward –

  • AB-PMJAY, despite having an apparently formidable beneficiary base, still has a small share in the overall scenario of inpatient care provision. This is due to low empanelment of hospitals; a general reluctance of private providers towards dispensing AB-PMJAY benefits; and limited contribution of AB-PMJAY to the overall business of hospitals.
  • The kind of innovations and their consequence, and the extent and depth of their incorporation, will largely depend on the clout of AB-PMJAY in healthcare provision. This highlights how AB-PMJAY still has a long way to go in terms of becoming the central player in Indian healthcare.

SourceThe Hindu

QUESTIONSeveral researchers have pointed out that the Ayushman Bharat scheme may falter to bring down the health expenditure of India in the upcoming years. Suggest what must be done to bring the aspirational scheme in line with the rising health expenditure.

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