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Health Insurance for poor not a healthy practise: Experts

Written by: Staff

Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 5 (UNI) Health Insurance scheme to cover 2.5 million Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in Kerala was mired in a controversy with experts in the field raising doubts about its implementation and also creation of a new insurance culture in the society.

The 'Arogyasree' scheme promises ''cashless medical treatment'' cover to 12.5 million people from poor families.

The State Government has already entered into a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the Insurance major ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company for the scheme, which is being coordinated across the state through the ''Kudumbasree'' units.

Most of the experts talking to UNI opined that the Insurance company would not be able to deliver insurance cover to such a huge population with the minimal premium collected.

They also said the Government was in a way transferring the health sector into the hands of the private sector, and was creating a new health insurance culture by forcing the people to choose the ''cashless medical treatment''.

Mr Raman Kutty, a public health expert and former director of the Achuta Menon Centre for Health Science Studies at the Sree Chitra Institute of Medical sciences, told UNI the arithmetic of the insurance scheme raised several doubts.

Dr Kutty said: ''The company claims to give insurance to all BPL people. All the mediclaims are at a loss in this country.

Moreover, the company collecting a small premium will not be able to provide insurance to all.'' ''It is in this context that the real intention behind this scheme comes into question. ''I think that the real target is not the BPL people,'' he added.

'' There is a psychological and social aspect to it. When a person sees that his poor neighbour is using the facilities of a super speciality hospital, it gives him an urge to go for big hospitals. He would be lured into the Health Insurance as it might be impossible for him to pay the money for his treatment. In a way, it creates an atmosphere to make the people believe that he would not be able to meet his hospital expenses, unless he has an insurance card,'' he said.

As part of the agreement, the Government hospitals also come under the Insurance package, he said and added it would only create problems as there was no proper documentation in the Government hospitals.

''The patients, who avail the services of the Government hospitals would find it difficult to get their documents claim their insurance,'' Dr Kutty said adding that the Government ''should have brought in a scheme where all the people were covered.'' ''The Government could have come up with a common fund, which is in vogue in many parts of the world,'' he said.


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