The Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme for the economically weaker section is an excellent opportunity to improve health care in the country but budgetary allocation and poor infrastructure could pose big challenges. The scheme has relied heavily on private sector but can they be dependent upon?
In an article in the Indian Express, Dr Rakesh Kochhar of PGIMER Chandigarh and IT healthcare professional Rishab Kochhar have raised serious concern about the success of the scheme 100 days after its launch. The duo have flagged key concerns and commitment of making it a success.
India falls woefully short of number of hospital beds compared to WHO standards. With over three-fourth of hospital beds being in government sector, the private sector caters to a small segment of the well-off population. “So from where will the beds for treatment under the scheme come?” Besides, how can then one expect adequate delivery of healthcare under the scheme, when the government has kept aside only Rs 3000 crore for the scheme as against the expected outflow of Rs 11000 crore.
There is additional problem with health care delivery in public hospital, poor infrastructure at the secondary level and inadequate equipment and specialised manpower. As things stand, not even one of the 20 medical colleges in India offers cardiac bypass surgery.
Hundred days in the scheme, it remains to be seen if private hospitals provide knee replacement at Rs 80000 as against the current charge of Rs 3.5 lakh and bypass surgery at Rs 1.7 lakh as against the current rate of Rs 4 lakh.
Health care bills are the single biggest cause of debt in India, with 39 million people being forced into poverty every year. Can the scheme change that, they questioned.