Background: Government-sponsored health insurance schemes (GSHIS) aim to improve access to and utilization of healthcare services and offer financial protection to the population. India's Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) is one such GSHIS. This paper aims to understand how the processes put in place to manage hospital-based transactions, from the time a beneficiary arrives at the hospital to discharge are being implemented in PM-JAY and how to improve them to strengthen the scheme's operation.
Methods: Guidelines were reviewed for the processes associated with hospital-based transactions, namely, beneficiary authentication, treatment package selection, preauthorization, discharge, and claims payments. Across 14 hospitals in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh states, the above-mentioned processes were observed, and using a semi-structured interview guide fifty-three respondents were interviewed. The study was carried out from March 2019 to August 2019.
Results: Average turn-around time for claim reimbursement is two to six times higher than that proposed in guidelines and tender. As opposed to the guidelines, beneficiaries are incurring out-of-pocket expenditure while availing healthcare services. The training provided to the front-line workers is software-centric. Hospital-based processes are relatively more efficient in hospitals where frontline workers have a medical/paramedical/managerial background.
Conclusions: There is a need to broaden capacity-building efforts from enabling frontline staff to operate the scheme's IT platform to developing the technical, managerial, and leadership skills required for them. At the hospital level, an empowered frontline worker is the key to efficient hospital-based processes. There is a need to streamline back-end processes to eliminate the causes for delay in the processing of claim payment requests. For policymakers, the most important and urgent need is to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. To that end, there is a need to both revisit and streamline the existing guidelines and ensure adherence to the guidelines.
Keywords: Ayushman Bharat; Health Insurance; Hospital-based processes; India; PM-JAY; Universal Health Coverage.
© 2022. The Author(s).