New Delhi: The central government’s ambitious public health insurance scheme would create more than 100,000 ‘long-term’ jobs in the next four years, the programme’s Chief Executive Officer Indu Bhushan said, and a majority will be from the expected expansion of private hospitals.
The Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission (ABNHPM), aims to provide Rs 5 lakh health cover to 100 million of India’s poorest families.
“Based on our analysis, AB-NHPM is likely to directly create more than 100,000 long term skilled and semiskilled jobs in the next three to four years,” Bhushan told ET.
People are expected to be engaged in fields ranging from ‘implementation support’ at central and state levels to claim management support at the trust and insurance agencies in states implementing the scheme, he said.
The expansion of operations of the private sector will lead to the ‘largest chunk’, according to him. “Nearly 25,000 hospitals will be empanelled in the scheme to meet the demand of healthcare services… if we assume that 300 new private hospitals will be opened due to demand created by AB-NHPM and each hospital will employ 200 persons, then directly 60,000 jobs in the hospitals will be created,” said Bhushan.
Ayushman Bharat to create over 100,000 long-term jobs, says CEO Indu Bhushan
In addition to this, more than 80 lakh short-term ‘unskilled’ and ‘semi-skilled’ jobs will also be created during the roll-out of the mission, including in the construction of additional hospitals and expansion of existing private hospitals, Bhushan said. For the purpose of informing beneficiaries about AB-NHPM, approximately two lakh people are also expected to be hired on ground for a short term by the government, he added.
At the same time, some associations representing healthcare providers feel that the scheme may not necessarily propel the creation of more private sector hospitals due to reasons like the low reimbursement rates set for treatment packages.
“The scheme, in its present form, will not be financially viable for private hospitals to expand to underserved areas…it is obvious that the package rates have not been set scientifically,” said Alex Thomas, president, Association of Healthcare Providers (India).
Citing a recent study conducted by the government of Karnataka, Thomas added that the Ayushman Bharat scheme would contribute to 30-40% of the actual cost of hospital operations.
The health scheme’s success hinges on the availability of a ‘large’ number of medical specialists and support staff, he told ET.
“The basic problem is that India currently has a lack of specialists . Even if all other staff is there, how would the scheme work if the specialists that are supposed to treat the patients are not available?” Thomas said.
“Not enough specialists are being trained in the country… in the last few years, the government has increased the number of medical seats in colleges in India by 10-20%, but more seats will be required to produce enough specialists,” he added.
India would need to have a ‘registered stock’ of 2.07 million doctors to achieve a doctor-population ratio of 1:1,000 by 2030, according to a study titled ‘Aggregate Availability of Doctors in India: 2014–2030’ published in the Indian Journal of Public Health in September 2017. This means a 151% growth of registered doctors in the country between 2010 and 2030, the study estimates.
“Given only 14.41% growth rate achieved in the stock over a 5 year period between 2010 and 2014, 151% looks like an impossible target to achieve in rest of the 15 year period,” stated the study, authored by Basant Potnuru, associate professor, economics and business policy, FORE School of Management.