ACCESS partners with Karnataka’s Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust to highlight costing of health services

Our Bureau, BengaluruTuesday, September 1, 2015, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The ACCESS Health International in association with the Suvarna Arogya Suraskha Trust, government of Karnataka, organised a workshop to highlight costing of health services.

The five-day workshop taught participants how to design a costing study and how to train other practitioners to use costing study techniques. The workshop attracted participants from 10 Joint Learning Network countries, including India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Ghana, Malaysia, Vietnam, Kenya, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Moldova.

In order to achieve and sustain universal health coverage, governments must generate resources to expand the health coverage base, distribute resources equitably, use resources efficiently to achieve maximum benefit in terms of meeting healthcare needs, ensure quality of care, and protect users from financial hardship due to out of pocket expenses. Setting provider payment rates is a balancing act for the health purchaser, said the organisers.

Therefore the purchaser has three primary goals to keep total payments to providers within available resources, offer good quality services and create incentives to improve efficiency, quality, and responsiveness to patients.

Public investment into healthcare is slightly above one per cent of GDP, which is on the lower side when compared to India's peer countries. Private health insurance covers about 5 per cent of the total population. An additional 12 per cent have some coverage under government sponsored health insurance programmes.

Effective financing mechanisms are a critical requirement for improving access to healthcare. Among other priorities to advance universal health coverage, such as sound budget allocation and sustainable policy solutions, a shared understanding of how to gather, analyse, and update health services costing information for provider payments is essential to enable a healthcare model that delivers access for all.

“Costing of health services is one of the important technical priorities for many countries advancing toward universal health coverage. This train the trainer workshop is a pioneering step toward adopting a scientific approach to costing studies across countries, including India,” stated Sireesha Perabathina, associate director, ACCESS Health Joint Learning Network.

By the end of the workshop, participants were able to design a costing study and were ready to train others in their home countries. The workshop curriculum was designed for those affiliated with government sponsored health insurance programmes; practitioners involved in costing research, data management, health planning. Also included were cost accountants and senior managers of service provider organisations and health insurance funds; finance ministry; and private sector hospital officials who are associated with government institutions.