Government 'Freezes' Health Insurance Rates, Ignores Private Hospitals' Protests -Anoo Bhuyan
The government has fixed the insurance reimbursements for 1,354 medical procedures under its massive new scheme. They say they won’t revise this any further.
New Delhi: Despite protests from the private health sector, that the government’s reimbursements to them under the massive new health insurance scheme are too low, the government has “frozen” these rates and is unlikely to change them.
“The package rates are now frozen,” said health secretary Preeti Sudan.
Dinesh Arora, the deputy CEO of the scheme also said that the costing exercise for package rates has already been complete: “As far as we are concerned, we think these rates are pretty balanced. We will only be correcting errors, but not making any overall revisions. Any revision will have to be based on fact and logic. But no revisions are planned anymore.”
The Wire reported last week that private hospitals had come together under the Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI) to pressure the government to reassess their rates for medical procedures. They were demanding the rates be increased, suggesting otherwise that “The participation of healthcare providers would be sparse and the Ayushman Bharat will remain grossly ineffective on the ground.”
“This is just a bargaining tactic of hospitals,” says Arora.
The protests of private hospitals don’t appear to have moved the government who is already focusing on the next steps in the process, which is to sign a new tranche of agreements with states on Thursday, and get the information technology systems running.
The NDA government is currently celebrating four years of being in power. The Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Scheme (AB-NHPS) announced in February, is one of the flagship programmes in the health sector.
“We are not asking the hospitals in our network to boycott the scheme but we are concerned that the rates are so low that quality will suffer. If quality suffers, it is the poor who will suffer,” said Dr Alex Thomas of the AHPI.
He says that Dr Vinod Paul, member of the NITI Aayog, was in Bangalore this week and listened favourably to their pitch, that the rates were too low. Paul apparently assured them that their concerns would be examined again. The Wire has sent a query to Paul on this.
Arora says these rates are comparable to rates in states like Tamil Nadu. “Isn’t Apollo operating in Tamil Nadu on rates which are even lower? So are other private hospitals. They didn’t complain then. Why are they objecting now?”
Apollo’s CEO Sunita Reddy had recently spoken to Economic Times and said, “If we need quality care, we need to spend money.” She too echoed AHPI’s thoughts and said that low prices could result in patients getting sub-standard care. The Wire has sent a query to Apollo on this.
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