BENGALURU: The state government has assured Universal Healthcare for all its citizens from November 1, but it has now come at a cost for above poverty line (APL) families. Patients under category-B (which includes APL families) will have to foot 70 per cent of their medical expenses.
This is in contradiction to what the state announced in 2015. It had promised to give a subsidy to APL (above poverty line) families under a new scheme – Rajiv Arogya Bhagya (RAB), under which, it was said that APL patients will have to shell out only 30 per cent of the total expenses and the state would bear the rest. However, through the cabinet clearance on Monday, it has been announced that the state would now foot only 30 per cent of the cost. Now, under the Universal Health Coverage, all those who come under category-B will have to bear 70 per cent of the expenses.
When Express contacted the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST), a senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that through a series of discussions, they arrived at this conclusion as the state would not be able to pay all expenses. “With enrolment through cards, the number of beneficiaries will increase. The government will not be able to bear 70 per cent of the treatment cost as decided during the launch of Rajiv Arogya Bhagya,” the source said.Dr Sudha Chandrashekar, director, Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust, defended the state government citing that previously, it was only tertiary care that was provided under RAB. “But now, the state will also subsidise primary and secondary care. We have to look at it from a larger perspective,” she added.
‘Not all diseases covered’
The state government’s decision has drawn flak from activists. Dr Akhila Vasan, member of Karnataka Janarogya Chaluvali, claimed that the state was doing little strengthen the public health sector. “All the money is channelised to private hospitals. Besides, these schemes cover a narrow range of services. It is not universal in the true sense as not all diseases are covered,” he said.
“The very point about this ratio reversal shows that the state’s plan to provide Universal Healthcare by empanelling private hospitals is incorrect,” activist Vinay Srinivasa said. He also asked why government wasn’t footing bills for non-procedural treatments. “What happens to those who are on life-time dialysis? This will only benefit private hospitals,” he added.
Poor response the reason?
Sources in the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST) said this move could be a result of poor response to Rajiv Arogya Bhagya (RAB). The scheme that was launched in 2015 has only seen 5,306 beneficiaries till date. Whereas Vajpayee Arogyashree, a scheme for BPL families, has over 2 lakh beneficiaries so far Most beneficiaries under Rajiv Arogya Bhagya seek cardiac or oncology treatmentMysuru region: Mandya, Kodagu, Udupi among others had seen best response.