A winning model of health insurance for the poor

Friday, February 3, 2012

Access to healthcare in India has certainly improved over the past few decades. All indices point in this direction. However, India still languishes amongst the worst providers of healthcare. Out-of-pocket expenses are the primary cause of indebtedness for the poor. The key issue is how to reach out to the population at the bottom of the pyramid. Is there a model that is socially desirable, politically acceptable, technologically feasible and financially sustainable?

Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) is gradually demonstrating that there can be a business model for a social sector scheme. It is also demonstrating that markets do not necessarily work against the poor. In fact, markets can bring about efficiency in delivering public services that are (should be) delivered by the government or its agencies. At present, under RSBY, the premium for health insurance cover of `30,000 for a family of five is shared by the central and state governments.

The beneficiary pays only `30 as registration fee. However, the delivery of healthcare services is by public and private sector insurance companies that cover the risk and in-patient health care is provided by more than 8,000 hospitals, public and private, spread across the country. The scheme, therefore, illustrates how public-private partnership can successfully deliver a social sector scheme.

Source: Economic Times (link opens in a new window)