'Arogya' health insurance model for poor to be made national

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New Delhi, Aug 7 (UNI) Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia today commended the 'Rajiv Arogya Sri' health insurance programme for the poor, launched by the Andhra Pradesh government and said the Centre proposes to replicate this at national level.

The intention of the government is to cover 300 million people Below the Poverty Line (BPL) in the next three to four years, he said.

''We expect that in the next three to four years, the government would be able to offer health insurance to the BPL population enabling the people to place a demand on hospitals, both public and private,'' Dr Ahluwalia said inaugurating a two-day conference here.

The event titled "FICCI HEAL 2008' relates to a conference and an exhibition with the theme 'Fostering Quality Healthcare for All.' Dr Ahluwalia exhorted Corporates to have built in insurance products in the compensation package they offer to their employees.

''FICCI could launch a campaign to advise its members to go in compulsory health insurance of employees. You should also involve and institutionalise the involvement of civil society groups as you roll out the Public Private Partnership model as an acceptable area for such partnerships,'' he said.

Dr Ahluwalia said the insurance companies would have a ''vested interest'' in determining the efficient hospitals as they would be the ones who will pay for the treatment of the insurance card holders. Such a scheme would result in greater competition and improve the efficiency of hospitals, he said.

On the occasion, Dr Ahluwalia released the FICCI-Ernst and Young (E&Y) study on 'Fostering Quality Healthcare for All' and the ISQua approved NABH standards on Hospital Accreditation.

Delivering the keynote address, Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Naresh Dayal said the government has decided to allow corporate entities to set up medical colleges, for which land acquisition norms would be relaxed.

The government would also encourage Public Private Partnerships with government hospitals in fostering healthcare, Mr Dayal said.

Chairman of the FICCI Health Services Committee Shivinder Singh spoke about the acute shortage of healthcare personnel, ranging from doctors, nurses, technicians and administrators.

He said there could be a shortfall of over 4.5 lakh doctors in 2012 and up to seven lakh in the next 10 years.

Mr Singh outlined the potential areas that need to be targetted for achieving the goal of quality healthcare for all. These include incentives for building health care infrastructure, increase the supply of skilled manpower, establishing third party validations, creating new delivery formats such as PPPs, raidly deepening health insurance penetration, access to better and cheaper technology and positioning India as a medical value travel hub.

Dr Jonathan B Perlin, Chief Medical Officer &President 'Clinical Services, Hospital Corporation of America,' enumerated the key learnings from the American experiment with healthcare.

These include building health value through quality and sound internal systems.

He underlined the importance of developing new healthcare models and measuring performance, leveraging the scale and scope of such activities and efficient use of resources to deliver, improve and benchmark health outcomes.

Dr William A Haseltine, President, The William A Haseltine Foundation for Medical Sciences&the Arts, the US, spoke off efficient healthcare delivery by the private sector.

Dr Haseltine commended the efficiency of India's tertiary hospitals, which he said were far more efficient than those in the United States and Europe.

''While Indian cardiac surgeons perform ten times more operations compared to their counterparts in the US, the efficiency of equipment use was also much higher. We can learn about efficiency from you and you can benefit from our medical technologies,'' he said.

The issues that are being deliberated at the conference include building healthcare infrastructure and relevance of infrastructure status; private investment in healthcare; the PPP model in healthcare delivery; quality and Accreditation of healthcare facilities; medical technologies; medical education: need for expansion and skill enhancement; importance of health insurance in India and medical versus non-medical administrators.

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