WILL ROPE IN PRIVATE HOSPITALS IF CASES SURGE”

Business Today|July 12, 2020

WILL ROPE IN PRIVATE HOSPITALS IF CASES SURGE”
The Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), the flagship health insurance scheme of the Central government, has just reached the one-crore treatment landmark. The total cost has been around ₹14,000 crore so far. Launched 20 months ago, the scheme – a partnership between Centre and states – provides ₹5 lakh a year health cover to 10.74 crore poor families. Dr Indu Bhushan, CEO, National Health Authority, which implements the AB-PMJAY, talks to Joe C. Mathew about how the AB-PMJAY cover can help the poor fight the Covid-19 emergency. Edited excerpts.
Joe C. Mathew

Private hospitals are complaining that their footfalls have fallen considerably during the lockdown. What has been the experience of PMJAY-empanelled hospitals?

In the last two months, or after March 23, we have seen a significant drop in admissions. Before March 23, we were doing 25,000-30,000 hospital admissions/treatments per day, but after the lockdown, we are down to 12,000-13,000. This is more than a 50 per cent drop. The drop has been more in some states as compared to others. We have also seen that the drop has been more in private sector hospitals rather than public sector hospitals.

Why So?

We are looking at the reasons. The fear factor is one obvious reason. People don’t want to go to hospitals for elective procedures as they are afraid they may get infected. Also, because of lockdown, mobility is restricted. The third reason is that many hospitals, including government ones, have become Covid-only (no admissions for other treatments), and in many private hospitals, footfalls have fallen so much that they have scaled down operations. It’s a vicious circle. Some have closed OPDs, because of which footfalls have fallen further. So, there are three reasons – fear factor, mobility, and fall in supply.

Has it impacted all treatment packages under the PM-JAY?

Not all. In some critical packages like chemotherapy, dialysis, which cannot be postponed, we have seen a decline of 15-20 per cent, not 50 per cent. It is good news.

How can we address the problem?

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July 12, 2020