Kolkata Group, an Indian socio-economic think tank, has suggested that a single payer national health insurance should be an essential component of healthcare financing in India.

A three-day workshop of the Group, chaired by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and attended by 50 participants from different walks of life, deliberated on the state of health services in India.

Sen said though economic reforms has loosened the bureaucratic “red tape” to an extent, its extension to health care system in the form of opening private investment had not resulted in the desired results.

“Intervention of private investments in health care system undermined the objective and distorted the end result,” Sen added.

He said an active engagement by the Government, particularly in the basic health care, could not be ignored. Right from Japan to Bangladesh, the Governments played the key role in health care delivery, he pointed out.

Inadequate allocation

“Current financial allocations are massively inadequate. In addition, the recently introduced public subsidization of expensive hospital care (private or public), without guidance from primary care doctors, could be both wasteful and injurious to the health of patients subjected to such procedures without assessing the exact medical need,” a statement issued at the end of the event said.

The group felt that the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana should be incorporated within an integrated healthcare system.

(This article was published on February 19, 2014)
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