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India's health insurance program for the poor a solution for public health

India's innovative and expanding health insurance program for those below the poverty line could increase India's public health and social security.

The Strategic Foresight Group writes,

"India’s ‘Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna’ (RSBY) scheme, launched in April 2008, provides basic health insurance to the millions in the country that live below the poverty line. If successful, this will have a far-reaching impact on India’s future social security."

Healthcare expenditure have been rising (up 126% in urban areas and 78% in rural areas between 1995 and 2004), but most poor patients can't afford treatment that isn't covered by the basic free healthcare for all BPL members of society. Through RSBY, any poor person who has documents that prove his or her BPL status is eligible for the scheme, and those without proof can get a card issued within a day. Since its launch, the scheme has enrolled approximately 60 million people from 22 different states, with aims to cover 100 million by 2011. Presently, around 5000 hospitals and clinics across the country accept the cards in lieu of money.

Implications

The Strategic Foresight group highlights some benefits to increasing public health of the BPL population: lower long-term hospitalization costs, less spread of communicable diseases, especially in urban areas, increased labor productivity, and money more money for basic necessities. If the scheme could be extended to those immediately above the poverty line - often one illness away from poverty - it could increase public health even more.

In addition, other countries are studying the program; Pakistan may roll out its own version and the World Bank is looking for opportunities to replicate it.

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Sources:

Strategic Foresight Group, Dec 2010:
http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/SFG_Dec2010.pdf#page=2

Halarnkar, Samar. ‘The master card’. The Hindustan Times. 4 July 2010:
http://www.hindustantimes.com/special-news-report/india-news/The-master-card/Article1-567469.aspx

Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna: http://rsby.gov.in/
‘Details of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna’. india.gov.in: http://india.gov.in/citizen/health/viewscheme.php?schemeid=1436

‘Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna’. District Rural Development Agency Kangra at Dharamshala: http://drdakangra.com/guidelines/RSBY.pdf

Swarup, Anil. ‘RSBY demonstrates the largest use of IT applications in rural areas’. E-Health Online. 1 September 2010: http://www.ehealthonline.org/interview/interviewdetails.asp?Title=%93RSBY-demonstrates-the-largest-use-of-IT-applications-in-ruralareas%94&interviewid=714


http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/pakistan-wants-to-replicate-indias-health-insurance/articleshow/5099969.cms