The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 (2015-16) states only 10.4% of households in Assam have a family member covered by a health scheme or health insurance.
NFHS-4 was carried out under the aegis of the ministry of health and family welfare with the Mumbai-based International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS) designated as the nodal agency to conduct the survey. Data was gathered from 24,542 households, 28,447 women and 3,860 men. Fieldwork for the Assam survey was carried out from November 6, 2015 to March, 31, 2016 by Nielsen (India) Private Limited.
Assam’s figure is only an 8% increase from the 2.3% recorded in the last survey a decade ago in 2005-06. Neighbouring Tripura, in the same survey, recorded 58.1%, Meghalaya registered 34.65 and Sikkim 30.3%. Arunachal Pradesh led the way after the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister’s Universal Health Insurance Scheme, that was launched in September 2014.
B Paswan, professor and head of the department of population policies and programmes at IIPS, told TOI that Assam’s limited coverage could either be contributed to a lack of awareness about existing schemes or communication gap that may have emerged between those who carried out the survey and the respondents.
Satyajit Borah, state secretary of the Indian Medical Association of the Assam state branch, said it was time such an initiative was undertaken for the sake of the people living below the poverty line. “There should be a universal health insurance scheme put in place as soon as possible. The state government should have accelerated the effort. I haven’t seen about the NFHS survey but the 10.4% figure is quite low,” said Borah.