Need for sound regulation to ensure provision of Quality Healthcare

May 29, 2014 by
Filed under: Events & Updates, Healthcare, Industry Update 

Source: Economic Times

Health minister Harsh Vardhan has reportedly said that the new government will give top priority to health insurance for all citizens. Universal health insurance is a flawed idea, and expensive too.

The premise that the government should pay for insurance and insurance spread will ensure healthcare is misplaced. The start of healthcare must be public health and nutrition. And the essentials are providing safe drinking water and hygienic disposal of human and animal waste. This, in turn, calls for fixing the deranged sanitation system that contaminates aquifers and spreads disease. The government’s focus should be on expanding sanitation programmes like Nirmal Gaon, involving local communities.

The lowest-cost healthcare would be the one delivered by state facilities without a profit motive. Private healthcare would entail actual cost plus a profit margin. When private healthcare is accessed via insurance, the premium would have to cover, apart from actual cost, two layers of profit: the private care providers’ and the insurers’.

Should the government bear this burden? The state should build its own care facilities. The second option is for the state to pay for managed healthcare, in which providers charge per capita to keep a group healthy, with an inbuilt incentive to keep costs down. The need is to have sound regulation to ensure provision of quality healthcare.

India needs a regulator for the health sector to bring in transparency in procedures and billing, and also promote ethical competition among hospitals. Narayana Hrudayalaya and Aravind Netralaya are sound examples of low-cost healthcare models that others should follow. The state must concentrate on own care facilities, effective regulation, expanding healthcare manpower and clean drinking water and sanitation.

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