BANGALORE: A study of Karnataka’s Vajpayee Arogyashree (VAS) Scheme found that the risk of dying from conditions covered by the insurance fell by 65 percent and out-of-pocket expenses for hospitalisation dropped by 60 percent.
The findings of the study were published in British Medical Journal last month.
The lead author of the study is Neeraj Sood and was conducted by Eran Bendavid from Stanford University, Arnab Mukherji from the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, Zach Wagner from the University of California, Berkeley, and Patrick Mullen and Somil Nagpal from the World Bank Group.
They evaluated the effects of the government insurance programme covering tertiary care for poor people in Karnataka on out-of-pocket expenditures, hospital use, and mortality.
The mortality rate among people less than 60 years of age fell to 50 percent in notheren Karnataka, which was covered under the scheme first, against 70 percent in areas not covered.
The scheme has now been expanded to the whole state.
The free insurance covered specific high-impact medical conditions - such as heart disease and cancer - which poor residents often die from because they are unable to pay for the necessary expensive treatment.
Some of the unique features of the VAS programme include free tertiary care at both private and public hospitals empanelled by VAS for poor families, automatic enrolment of all poor families with no annual premiums, user fees, or copayments; and health camps in rural areas by empanelled hospitals, which helped screen patients for tertiary care and transport them to hospitals in urban centres.