Addressing healthcare needs of people living below the poverty line: a rapid assessment of the Andhra Pradesh Health Insurance Scheme

M Rao, S S Ramachandra, S Bandyopadhyay, A Chandran, R Shidhaye, S Tamisettynarayana, A Thippaiah, M Sitamma, M Sunil George, V Singh, S Sivasankaran, S I Bangdiwala
National Medical Journal of India 2011, 24 (6): 335-41

BACKGROUND: Families living below the poverty line in countries which do not have universal healthcare coverage are drawn into indebtedness and bankruptcy. The state of Andhra Pradesh in India established the Rajiv Aarogyasri Community Health Insurance Scheme (RACHIS) in 2007 with the aim of breaking this cycle by improving the access of below the poverty line (BPL) families to secondary and tertiary healthcare. It covered a wide range of surgical and medical treatments for serious illnesses requiring specialist healthcare resources not always available at district-level government hospitals. The impact of this scheme was evaluated by a rapid assessment, commissioned by the government of Andhra Pradesh. The aim of the assessment was to explore the contribution of the scheme to the reduction of catastrophic health expenditure among the poor and to recommend ways by which delivery of the scheme could be improved. We report the findings of this assessment.

METHODS: Two types of data were used for the assessment. Patient data pertaining to 89 699 treatment requests approved by the scheme during its first 18 months were examined. Second, surveys of scheme beneficiaries and providers were undertaken in 6 randomly selected districts of Andhra Pradesh.

RESULTS: This novel scheme was beginning to reach the BPL households in the state and providing access to free secondary and tertiary healthcare to seriously ill poor people.

CONCLUSION: An integrated model encompassing primary, secondary and tertiary care would be of greater benefit to families below the poverty line and more cost-effective for the government. There is considerable potential for the government to build on this successful start and to strengthen equity of access and the quality of care provided by the scheme.

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