BENGALURU: The Karnataka government is contemplating increasing the coverage of its flagship health scheme Arogya Karnataka from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh equalling Centre’s Ayushman Bharat. While Ayushman Bharat covers 62 lakh BPL families, Arogya Karnataka covers the entire state’s population - both BPL and APL, which is at least 1.43 crore families. Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, Health Minister Shivanand Patil said, “We have had review meetings and are contemplating increasing the coverage of Arogya Karnataka to Rs 5 lakh, which is what Ayushman Bharat is providing. The cabinet has to approve this.”
Even Ayushman Bharat will be operated by Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST), which is operating Arogya Karnataka in the state. As many as 15,643 people have availed treatment under Arogya Karnataka since its launch in March. The scheme covers specified primary, secondary, complex secondary, tertiary and emergency healthcare services, totalling 1,516 procedures.
Arogya Karnataka is expected to cost the state Rs 1,011 crore annually. While 501 private hospitals have empanelled with the Arogya Karnataka scheme, 322 are yet to be empanelled. Bengaluru has 47 private hospitals empanelled with Arogya Karnataka. Much to the chagrin of private hospitals, the government maintains that there is no disagreement of procedure rates between the hospitals and the government. “There is no disagreement of package rates between government and private hospitals. Price fixation has been taken care of and they have signed MoUs with us. We had a lot of hospital owners who were a part of Yeshaswini Trust who have vested interests. Some of them also went to the court.” he said.
According to Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act, a price-fixing committee has to be formed with representatives from various hospitals to fix rates of different procedures. But the minister maintains that the rates at which the hospitals are reimbursed have already been revised once. The Yeshaswini scheme meant for farmers and their families had 39 lakh beneficiaries, of which 60% were BPL card holders. The scheme provided Rs 2 lakh coverage per individual of which Rs 1 lakh could be provided for surgery. But this covered only one incidence per annum.
After a number of media reports suggested that farmers and many erstwhile scheme beneficiaries were experiencing teething problems with Arogya Karnataka, the minister clarified that one does not require Arogya Karnataka card to avail treatment and that production of BPL card should suffice.