Over one crore people have availed treatment worth around Rs 13,412 crore for free in hospitals across the country under the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme since its launch in September 2018, officials said. Also, 2,132 patients have availed or are currently undergoing treatment for COVID-19 under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY) in the country, the National Health Authority (NHA), which is responsible for implementing the scheme, said on Wednesday. Responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Union Ministry of Health has made testing and treatment for the coronavirus infection free under the insurance scheme for its 53 crore beneficiaries.
More than 21,565 hospitals, including private hospitals, have been empanelled under the programme so far, the NHA said in its statement.
Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Rajasthan have emerged as the top performing states, providing the highest number of treatments under the scheme, it said.
Orthopaedics, cardiology, cardio-thoracic and vascular surgery, radiation oncology and urology have remained as the top specialties under which treatment is sought. Treatment packages like single stent (medicated, inclusive of diagnostic angiogram), hip fracture internal fixation and rehabilitation, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), double stent (medicated, inclusive of diagnostic angiogram) and total knee replacement have emerged as the top tertiary procedures, the statement said.
This is a milestone achievement for the Ayushman Bharat PMJAY scheme on providing 1 crore treatments to patients from the country's poorest households since its launch less than two years ago. These treatments worth Rs 13,412 crore have been provided through a growing network of 21,565 public and private empanelled hospitals, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in the statement.
"The government of India is making persistent efforts to expand testing and make treatment of COVID-19 available for free to all 53 crore beneficiaries of the Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY, further strengthening government's resolve, scope and capability to move towards universal health coverage," Vardhan said.
To mark this milestone, the first edition of Arogya Dhara, a series of webinars created as an open platform for discussion on topical issues of public health, is being planned to be held on May 21.
The webinar titled "Ayushman Bharat: 1 crore treatments and beyond" will have a keynote address by Vardhan and he is expected to launch a 'Ask Ayushman' chat bot on WhatsApp, a 24*7 AI-enabled assistant to provide information on various aspect of the AB PM-JAY scheme such as its benefits, features, process of making an e-card, locating the nearest empanelled hospital, sharing feedback and the process of lodging a grievance, it said.
One of the key features of the chat bot is that it is able to comprehend and respond in Hindi and English languages and it also provides text-to-speech feature for the users and can be universally used on all major social media platforms, the statement added. The minister will also launch a hospital ranking dashboard, which is a significant step to rank empanelled hospitals on the basis of beneficiaries' feedback, it said.
The ranking will help NHA take evidence-based decisions for enhancing quality measures and indicators of healthcare delivery across all empanelled facilities to further improve the beneficiaries' experiences.
Apart from these, a Hindi version of the Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY website will also be launched. The main objective of this is to effectively connect with the masses and to empower them with access to right information through a user-friendly medium, the NHA said in the statement.
Dr Indu Bhushan, CEO of AB-PMJAY and NHA, said, "We are marking this milestone of 1 crore treatment under AB-PMJAY at a time when the whole country is reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic. We have utilised this period to leverage our IT systems and network of private sector stakeholders to support the government's preparedness and response in the form of managing the national COVID-19 helpline 1075 by conducting thousands of outbound calls to coronavirus-infected patients and their families."
"We have also further strengthened our network of hospitals and service capabilities to ensure continued service delivery to non-COVID patients under the scheme," he said. NHA's state-of-the-art call centre is also being used as a COVID-19 helpline. More than 600-700 dedicated agents are answering calls by citizens round the clock.
The National Health Authority has made calls to disseminate precaution advisory to beneficiaries of AB PM-JAY who are at a higher risk of contracting the disease such as those above 60 years of age and have recently received treatment under PM-JAY or those having co-morbidities.
The AB-PMJAY is the flagship scheme of the government that provides a cover of up to Rs 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation to over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families (about 53 crore beneficiaries). AB PM-JAY provides cashless and paperless access to services for the beneficiaries at the point of service. Under this scheme, there are 1,578 health benefit packages with defined rates.