The central government's health insurance scheme, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), is a "complete failure", according to a study by researchers at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
While the government now ambitiously plans to leverage this scheme to a bigger platform, under the National Health Protection Scheme, the findings of this study show that it has fared poorly across the nation since its inception in 2008, reported Hindustan Times.
RSBY was introduced to provide health insurance coverage of up to INR30,000 (US$466) to below poverty line (BPL) families. It provides for cashless insurance for hospitalisation in public and private hospitals.
There is no evidence of the effectiveness of the programme, said Dr Soumitra Ghosh, assistant professor, School of Health Systems Studies, and the lead author of the paper. The study showed till 2014, only 11% of BPL families were registered under the scheme.
Another worrisome finding was that the scheme has had no significant impact on the cost of outpatient services which burden patients financially compared to inpatient services. One of the reasons for this was that patients were often asked to buy medicines and diagnostics, the author added.
He said that the findings had serious implications at the policy level as the government plans to expand the scheme in the coming months to achieve universal health coverage.