Lessons for policy makers

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan releases Dr. Sonalini Khetrapal’s book ‘Healthcare for India’s Poor – The Health Insurance Way’

As India sets out on the enormous task of implementing the world’s biggest health insurance program for the poor, a new book by Dr Sonalini Khetrapal, a Social Sector Specialist at Asian Development Bank in Manila, Philippines shares her insight from the implementation of a previous nationwide scheme to help policy makers grab crucial lessons from the experience.


The book ‘Healthcare for India’s Poor – The Health Insurance Way’, written by Dr Sonalini Khetrapal was released by Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan, in New Delhi on the 26th of July 2019.


Before the government announced the ambitious Ayushman Bharat or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) scheme, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY), a previously running social health Insurance scheme was providing health coverage to people living below poverty line. RSBY was also based on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework, and the experiences gained from its implementation will be critical to the success of PMJAY.
This book, based on a study of RSBY, its implementation, its success and its drawbacks, intends to share with policy-makers several insights that may be useful for other health care schemes for the poor and vulnerable including PMJAY.


Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan on the occasion of the book launch said, “I congratulate Dr. Sonalini Khetrapal, and express my good wishes for the book. The book comes up with interesting findings on the RSBY scheme. Some of these findings are very important for us to understand. Despite the scheme, the children and the mothers did not receive healthcare benefits because the earlier scheme included Rs 30,000 healthcare spent which would be spent most of the time on the head of the family. Although the RSBY was hurriedly launched, but in context of the scheme by the present government, there is a big difference in the spirit in which these schemes were launched. I am very confident that India has the capacity to provide healthcare for its people and provide insights for the rest of the world.”


Sonalini Khetrapal on what propelled her to look for solution and write the book, said, “A study published in the British Medical Journal found that in 2011-12, 5.5 crore people were pushed into poverty due to healthcare costs. As India works to implement the potentially game changing PMJAY program, it is very important for policy makers to understand in what ways did RSBY succeed and where it failed. My book tries to analyse the implementation of RSBY to put forward the lessons it can offer for PMJAY.”


Speaking at the book release function were Dr Vinod Paul, Member, The NITI Aayog, said: “With Ayushman Bharat, the role of poor health as a driver of household poverty in India has been recognized and has been addressed with a robust and sufficiently large program matching the aspirations and size of the population.”

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