Over 1 lakh COVID-19 patients have received free treatment in private hospitals under the free healthcare scheme- Arogya Sri. Healthcare scheme, Arogya Sri was announced to benefit poor families and lower-income group people. The main motto of Arogya Sri scheme is to offer good health care facilities and best medical services to poor patients.
Arogya Sri alias Rajiv Arogya Sri is a flagship healthcare program, introduced by former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Late Dr. Y S Rajasekhar Reddy. The latest government led by CM Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh renamed the scheme after his late father in 2019 to Dr. YSR Aarogya Sri. Under this scheme, all individuals possessing an 'Arogya Sri' card can avail absolutely free healthcare services at listed hospitals, if the bill exceeds 1000 INR.
According to the Andhra Pradesh government, under the said scheme, the State government has spent over Rs. 309 crores on this initiative. The State officials said that medical bills of more than a family's annual income have been compensated by the Andhra government. As of today, a total of 1,00,033 COVID-19 patients have received free treatment in various private hospitals across the state, under this scheme.
Within a few days after COVID-19's outbreak in the State, Andhra Pradesh became the first in the country to include COVID-19 in the list of illnesses covered under the State's flagship healthcare scheme, Arogya Sri. The officials said,
"It is important to note that free treatment is being extended at all Government hospitals and private hospitals taken over by the Government due to the pandemic, irrespective of whether or not the individual is eligible under Arogya Sri."
In order to establish a vivid perspective on the impact of this scheme, one would have to look at a couple of case studies. According to State authorities, the government had approved a mammoth sum of Rs. 5,87,534 towards medical bills of 49-year-old, Ramanaiah Manda, a resident of the Nellore district. Under the scheme, he could avail free treatment at the Apollo Speciality Hospitals.
Similarly, a sum of Rs. 4,68,312 was approved towards bills of a 58-year-old, Sheikh Nazeer. Considering that one's family income should be below 5 lakh per annum in order to be eligible under this scheme, it is a cause of indignation how these families are subjected to immense financial turmoil. Many times, they have been required to spend entire annual income on the treatment of one family member, had the government not paid them under this scheme.
Similar instances in each district of Andhra Pradesh owing to this ubiquitous scheme continues to save the lives of the poor and downtrodden. The state government taking responsibility of their medical bills prevents them from further taking debts, thus, aiding the destitute by not pushing one deeper into a debt trap.
The main objective of this State scheme is to offer free hospital service, equity of access to every Below Poverty Line (BPL) family and financial security for catastrophic health expenditures. Under the initiative, government funded hospitals are also strengthened and boosted for better performance.
As on April 22, 10:00 am, active COVID-19 cases have crossed the 66,944 mark. Total patients who have been discharged stood at 9,20,082 mark whereas the total number of deceased persons in the State recorded were 7,541. In the past 24 hours, the State tested 41,871 COVID-19 samples, while 10,759 fresh cases were reported and 31 persons succumbed to the virus. More than 3,990 people were discharged yesterday.