In an effort to boost health protection for the poor and move towards the goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the Indian Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) organised a one-day national workshop in New Delhi on 05 May on the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) – India’s national health insurance scheme.
The workshop invited officials from MoHFW, state government representatives, insurance companies and other stakeholders, who exchanged best practices to further strengthen the implementation of RSBY and make it a pillar of UHC in India. The workshop was organised under the ambit of Indo-German bilateral project Indo-German Social Security Programme (IGSSP). Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is supporting the partners in implementing the programme.
Over 120 participants from across the country attended the workshop, including representatives from 16 federal states, officials of other concerned ministries, insurance companies and international organisations such as GIZ, the World Bank and ADB.
The national health insurance scheme, RSBY provides coverage for hospitalisation to poor families through a smart card-based system. It was launched in 2008 with the support of GIZ and grew rapidly to become one of the world’s largest public health programmes, with 26 federal states implementing the programme and providing health insurance for 41 million poor families.
Dr. K. Rajeswara Rao, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, led the discussions during the workshop. Senior ministry officials stressed that it was critical to strengthen RSBY so that the poor continue to get coverage for hospitalisation expenses, and to facilitate the seamless transition to the proposed National Health Protection Scheme.
The participants were briefed on the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme, which was recently introduced by the Indian government as an additional targeted benefit for the elderly in families covered by RSBY. The scheme provides coverage of Rs. 30,000 per year for each elderly member of a beneficiary family towards cost of hospitalisation, including some identified specialised treatment packages.
One of the key outcomes of the workshop was the decision to form a sub-committee in order to strengthen the IT systems of RSBY. It was proposed that the committee would have members from the government’s IT team, select state governments, technical experts of GIZ and representatives of insurance companies.