Thursday, November 30, 2006

Health is indeed wealth

Healthcare in India is a much neglected topic with the occassional epidemic outbreak and the occassional op-ed article in The Hindu keeping the flame of discussion on this topic alive. Read this article from The Frontline describing how a left-front government of all governments is forced to rethink on a populist move set in motion by the UDF government in Kerala.

Whether the UDF government has gone ahead with this populist insurance scheme for the BPL families in blind faith in its statistics and the centre's paying power; or has gone in with outright confidence to win the assembly election and cover up its shady dealings, one thing is certain. The succeeding LDF government is in a catch-22 situation which is beautifully explained by the finance minister Mr. T. M. Thomas Isaac.

"There will be problems. It is indeed a catch-22 situation.We are now trying
to introduce a curious instrument that would undermine Kerala's public health
care sector, which, unlike in other States, is well established. But the State
government cannot also go back fully because individuals (among them people who have already paid the premium) would now be looking at what he or she can get from the scheme. It is no longer a collective choice. Every individual member
who has been promised cashless medical treatment for the next three years would
not be bothered about the long term implications. They would now be worried only about losing their short term benefits. So we cannot take a position on it

If I were a politician, I would say this to Oomen Chandy, "Eda Oomen, you have played your trick like a professional billiards player, who knows that if he has no chance of continuing on the next shot, places the cue ball in such a position that his opponent is forced to make a mistake if he uses the cue ball to strike; but strike he must, because withdrawing is not an option."

But being Deepak, I only say, "Health is wealth dude."

PS: Read this wonderful article by C P Chandrashekar and Jayati Ghosh in The Businessline arguing for higher public health funding.

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