According to gynecologist and Director of Bangalore Medical College Kamini Rao, the Government should include treatment for infertility in the Yeshaswini health insurance scheme, for the benefit of poor people. Rao was speaking at Kala Bhavan in Hassan, Karnataka after inaugurating a free infertility treatment camp for women.
The camp, which was organized by the Hassan branch of the India Society of Gynecologists, saw as many as 200 women attendees.
Rao stressed that as the cost of surgery for correcting infertility was too high, not many could afford it. She wanted the Government to intervene and include it in the Yeshaswini health insurance scheme.
Though the State and the Center spend crores of rupees on public health, it has not considered infertility as a serious health problem, Rao pointed out. The doctor cited several reasons for infertility, most of which could be cured. She rued the fact that India's male-dominated society always blamed women for the absence of children in a marriage.
The Yeshaswini Health Insurance Scheme for the rural poor is basically a cooperative program between corporates, the government and various NGOs.
In 2003, the program was introduced throughout rural Karnataka State and in its first year of operation, the scheme had enrolled 1.6 million rural farmers and peasants dispersed throughout the state. Now, YHIS has become the world's largest health insurance program for the rural poor.
For a premium payment of only Rs. 5 per month or Rs. 60 annually, participants are covered for all surgical interventions, major or minor, and for outpatient services (OPD) at a network of private and government hospitals.
Providing health insurance or health security for poor people is one of the most important unresolved policy issues worldwide. The poor, both rural and urban, rarely have any form of health insurance though they form the bulk of the population in most less industrialized countries.
At this point, though, India as a whole has an underdeveloped and underinsured healthcare system. With 94 beds per 100,000 people, India remains well below the WHO norm of 333 beds. A McKinsey estimate provides a higher number for India's hospital beds, with 1.5 per 1000 people, but that still doesn't compare favorably with China, Brazil, and Thailand, which average approximately 4.3 beds per 1000 people.
With that, the system reaches only about 50% of the population and most of that remains uninsured. Approximately 85% of billed healthcare expenditure in India is "out of pocket" (i.e. paid by individuals directly); only about 15% is covered by insurers.
The Yeshaswini Health Insurance Scheme originated in the mind of one of India's topmost heart specialists; Dr. Devi Shetty. It was he who pioneered the spread of telemedicine as well as low cost cardiac operations in India.