In a major reprieve to weaker and underprivileged sections of society, the Health and Family Welfare Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu today announced that Punjab Government led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has decided to provide free treatment to COVID-19 patients falling under Sarbat Sehat Beema Yojna in empanelled Private hospitals.
The Health Minister said that the facility will be available in the hospitals equipped for offering COVID-19 treatment at cap rates ranging from Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 18,000 per day, which are the same rates that have been fixed for Private hospitals in the State for the general public. He said that the State Government will bear the entire differential treatment cost derived after deducting the cost payable by the Insurance Company from the cap rates. Mr Sidhu unequivocally said that cap rates are all-inclusive, that includes bed, PPE kits, medicines, consumables, monitoring/nursing care, Doctor’s fee, investigations, oxygen, etc.
The Minister said that SSBY beneficiaries can directly visit empanelled Private hospitals without any need for referral from the Public hospitals for COVID-19 treatment adding that this initiative shall bring an immense relief to the vulnerable and deprived section of the State population, who will now be able to avail level 2 and level 3 treatment care in empanelled Private hospitals. He said that earlier, the treatment available in these empanelled Private hospitals was payable as per SSBY scheme rates fixed by Government of India that range from Rs. 1,800 to Rs. 4,500, which were too less to be viable for the hospital to meet expenses of treatment of a COVID-19 patient that entails additional cost on account of PPE kits, masks, consumables, isolation, etc. Mr. Sidhu said that though the treatment of COVID-19 beneficiary patients was totally free in the Public hospitals right from the beginning, however, to provide relief to a large section of the society, the State Government decided to bear the additional expenses and allow free treatment of COVID-19 patients in empanelled Private hospitals at cap rates under the scheme.
The Health Minister shared that since its launch, Ayushman Bharat Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojana has shown consistent growth and uptake across the State. With over 6.77 lakh treatments worth Rs. 748 Crores, 867 empaneled hospitals (241 Public Hospitals and 626 Private Hospitals) and over 76% of entitled families distributed e‐cards, AB-SSBY has been accelerating its growth trajectory. He said that due to the second surge of COVID‐19 pandemic engulfing the entire State and overwhelming the healthcare infrastructure, the Public hospitals had to cut-back on elective surgeries/non-COVID treatment to focus on tackling emergent COVID-19 crises. Mr Sidhu said that Therefore, in order to facilitate hassle-free treatment to the beneficiaries under the scheme, the State Government has recently de-reserved 55 Government hospital reserved surgical treatments, enabling the beneficiaries to get these treatments done in empanelled Private hospitals as well.
The Health and Family Welfare Minister stressed that for successful implementation of AB-SSBY, it is crucial to harness the ever‐growing potential of the private healthcare sector, as well as significantly enhance the infrastructure and quality of care available at public hospitals to ensure poor and marginalized people get access to essential healthcare. He said that it is also equally critical to monitor the quality and appropriateness of care and have a clear set of guidelines for hospitals to make their staff and beneficiary aware of the preventive measure and ensure their safety during this pandemic time. Mr Sidhu said that “Providing 6.77 lakh treatments (4.01 lakh in Private and 2.75 lakh in Government Hospitals) to patients from the State’s poorest households since its launch, is a milestone achievement for the scheme”.
The Health and Family Welfare Minister emphasized that the aim is to ensure financial risk protection to around 39.57 lakh poorest, most vulnerable families in the State and is a step forward towards achievement of universal health coverage in the State.