NEW DELHI, Nov 22, India to offer private hospital subsidies to participate in the government's health care program, possibly the world's largest of its kind, a senior government official informed Reuters.
The scheme launched last year is critical to the plans of PM Modi to liberalize the national health system, in which most individuals and public hospitals are overloaded and often dilapidated by private health care.
The "Modicare" program provides family health insurance of up to 500,000 rupees ($7,000) a year for a severe illnesses-a large amount according to Indian expectations-but the scheme has struggled to gain momentum.
According to Bhushan, CEO of the National Health Authority (NHA), which runs the program, India has enrolled only 20 percent of qualified 500 million citizens so far due to the lack of education and awareness of the scheme and weak private sector involvement.
About 6 million people received free medical treatment so far under the scheme, he added.
Today, 60 percent of the nearly 20,000 hospitals enrolled under the system are in the private sector, Bhushan explained, emphasizing that the progress of the scheme is critical to increasing their participation.
Nonetheless, private hospitals remain worried about expenses. In August, a report by Indian lobby group FICCI and consultants EY responded by saying that private hospitals whined that NHA treatment rates covered only 40-80 percent of their costs.
Bhushan said his department was in negotiations with hospitals, industry groups, and service providers and was open to tariff review, although he had raised rates for some services given to hospitals last month.
Budget spending by the NHA also represents the scheme's slow take-up. In the current fiscal year ending in March, the health agency will invest just 50-55 billion rupees of the allotted 62 billion rupees, Bhushan added.
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