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June 27, 2017
The Union road transport ministry along national highways connecting Gurgaon to Jaipur, Mumbai to Vadodara, and Ranchi to Mahaulia launched cashless health insurance scheme for injuries on highways to address financial woes that over a third of road-trauma victims in India face from the treatment costs.
Shankar Prinja, associate professor in health economics at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, who led the team that evaluated this scheme by doing a three-hospital study at the George Institute for Global Health, New Delhi by tracking 2,200 road accident victims found that without insurance, such victims or their households spend on average Rs 25,000 on treatment during the first month after the accident, while the average spending crosses Rs 65,000 in the subsequent months.
The cashless insurance plan on the highways has made a difference. Even when victims had to pay for treatment, the analysis found significant differences in the out-of-pocket, or personal, expenditures on treatment between the victims covered by the scheme and those out of it. Patients with the most severe levels of injuries covered by the cashless scheme had an average personal expenditure of Rs 8,500 compared to the Rs 25,000 by those with comparable injuries not covered by the plan. The scheme, whose premium is paid by the Centre, provided free treatment of up to Rs 30,000 to road accident victims in government-empanelled hospitals easily accessible from the three segments of national highways.
Basis the strong evidence of financial risk protection with the cashless plan, Shankar Prinja and his team have recommended expanding the scheme to cover highways across the country.