Karnataka First India State to Offer Universal Healthcare

KARNATAKA – Chief Minister of the State of Karnataka introduced the first statewide universal healthcare (UHC) program in India. The first phase of the program was initiated on March 2, 2018.

Ultimately, when the program is entirely implemented, over 10 million households, regardless of income, will have some form of access to healthcare.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, “Through the scheme, all below-poverty-line (BPL) households will get free treatment at government hospitals while for above-poverty-line (APL) households, the state will bear about 30 percent of the treatment cost.”

The first phase of implementation is limited to 10 major hospitals. The second phase will extend to 33 major and district-level hospitals before the end of June 2018.

Although the plan is available at both public and private hospitals, patients will be required to visit a public hospital first. If the public hospital is not able to provide treatment or services, the patient will be referred to a private hospital. New patients under the plan will be issued a unique, personal number or ArkID.

The plan is also defined according to primary, secondary, or tertiary treatments. According to The News Minute, primary healthcare must be sought at state-run Primary Health Institutes (PHI). Secondary treatment will be available at private hospitals as noted in the previous paragraph.

Tertiary services will be available at designated hospitals. However, if treatment is unavailable at the PHI referral will be made to another PHI in the same or a neighboring district. If treatment is not available within that area, patients will be referred to a private hospital.

Among other matters yet to be completed is the establishment of fixed prices for medical services and treatments. This will be addressed by the appointment of a special committee.

Karnataka is the 8th largest state by area in India and has a population of 61 million. From a public healthcare perspective, Karnataka is already considered a leader among Indian states. The UHC program will keep it at the fore.


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