‘Fit basic healthcare cuts hospital spend’

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Strengthening health sub-centres by ensuring adequate medicines, basic infrastructure and trained personnel drastically reduces out-patient visits to private hospitals and clinics and hence also out-of-pocket expenses (OOP) by families, a study by the Centre for Technology and Policy in IIT Madras has found.

The scale of the reduction in expenses varied between 77% and 92% in three blocks in Tamil Nadu in a pilot project on ensuring universal health coverage.

While the study was restricted to the pilot project, its findings have a larger significance for policy at the national level, indicating that the best bang for the buck may be from strengthening the very bottom of the public healthcare system rather than focusing on insurance coverage.

Within eight months of the pilot project being rolled out last year, it was found that the share of private hospitals for outpatient care dropped from 51% to 21% in Shoolagiri block, from 48% to 24% in Viralimalai block and from 41% to 24%…

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