Reduce the out-of-pocket (OOP) spending for the common man

Inadequate Progress

By: Ashwin Mb

Indians spend 69% of the total healthcare expenditure from their own pockets and ranks 183rd out of the 192 countries in terms of percentage out of pocket expenditure out of the total health expenditure. With an aim to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure, Govt of India launched the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM) in September 2018 and provide 5 lakh per family per year for 10.7 crore families belonging to poor and vulnerable population.

However, NHPM insurance coverage is meant for secondary and tertiary hospitalization. The focus of the Mission seems to be on hospitalisation (including pre and post hospitalisation charges). However, most of the out of the pocket expenditure made by consumers is actually on buying medicines (52%). Further, these purchases are mostly made for patients who do not need hospitalisation.

BJP government started Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi PariYojana Kendra (PMBJPK) to provide generic life saving drugs at affordable rates in November, 2015. Since then, the total number of centres have risen to over 5000 PMBJP Kendras. However, there has been several reports of mismanagement leading to distributing poor quality of drugs to its citizens.

Finally, none of the schemes take into account the cost incurred by the citizens to travel to receive healthcare. Reports show that 48% of overnight trips made by rural Indians is made for medical purposes while average Indian spends roughly Rs 15k annually for these overnight trips.

Given that there is huge scope to reduce the expenditure by providing access to primary healthcare facilities as well as ensuring PMBJP Kendra run efficiently, the promises stands as ‘inadequate progress’.

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