Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana : The Perfect Platform for a Scam?

In the past, Government has tried to provide a health insurance cover to selected beneficiaries either at the State level or National level. However, most of these schemes were not able to achieve their intended objectives. Often there were issues with either the design or implementation of these schemes.
Keeping this in mind, the government launched the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (National Health Insurance Scheme) formally on October1, 2007, but its implementation started in April, 2008. Its objective is to provide health insurance coverage and protection from financial liabilities arising out of health shocks that involve hospitalization, for Below Poverty Line families.
Beneficiaries need to pay only Rs. 30/- as registration fee while Central and State Government pays the premium to the insurer selected by the State Government on the basis of a competitive bidding.
 In the Union Budget for 2012-13, the government made a total allocation of Rs. 1096.7 crore towards this scheme. By now, almost 30 million people have been enrolled under this scheme.
As per Zenith, the International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, the May 2012 issue, The total Below Poverty Line families in India are 51.3 millions, out of which 24.14 million (47%) enrolled with this scheme.
Well, as with all government related operations, even this scheme has been highlighted for all the wrong reasons. In mid July, it was brought to everybody’s notice that thousands of women had unnecessary hysterectomies so hospitals could make insurance claims. Officials estimated more than 2,000 women were talked into having their wombs removed in the previous six months. According to state health minister Amar Agrawal, over the last eight months, hospitals and nursing homes have claimed Rs. 2 crore under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana for removing the wombs of 1,800 women.
Now, in an even unsettling event, Bihar became the second state to be hit by the ‘uterus removal scam’, which has lead to the questioning of Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Government and also given an opportunity to the opposition Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan to blame the ruling party Janata Dal (United).
According to latest reports being presented, Samastipur district administration has sent a report to state government claiming that there are more than 1300 suspicious cases registered so far in this connection. Also, report claimed that 489 operations have been performed without any requirement.
The opposition Lok Janshakti Party has demanded a CBI probe into the alleged removal of uteruses of over 16,000 below poverty line women and suggested that the state should provide a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to all the victims of the uterus scam.
It’s amazing how every scam or scandal can be turned into an astounding opportunity for the opposition parties and play the amusing blame game and finger pointing match.

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