Every citizen of India will, in the near future, be entitled to health care through health insurance for all. A high level expert group on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has strongly recommended a re-configuration of the entire health system where the government will have a major role to play, reports thehindu.com. The group suggested that health care be offered as a National Health Package (NHP) covering all common conditions and high-impact health care requirements including in-patient and out-patient care free of cost. Resources for the said purpose will be mobilized through general taxation - as it is the most viable option to achieve the target of increasing public spending on health and creating mechanisms for private protection. A surcharge will be levied on salaries or taxable income to pay for the UHC and to offer cashless health care to all sections. According to the panel, the health care services would be made available through the public sector and contracted-in private facilities (including the non-government organisations and non-profit groups). These service providers would not be allowed to accept any additional payments from individuals or through privately purchased insurance policies for non-NHP services. Private providers opting for inclusion in the universal health coverage system would be reimbursed at standard rates as per levels of services offered to the population, and their activities appropriately regulated and monitored. Financing the proposed scheme will require public expenditure on health to be stepped up from around 1.2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) now to 2.5 per cent by 2017 and to 3 per cent of the GDP by 2022. "Increased public expenditures, in our estimate, will lead to a sharp decline in the proportion of private out-of-pocket spending on health from 73 per cent at present to 33 per cent by 2022," according to the draft report submitted to the Planning Commission of India.
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