The CGHS is financed mainly through the Centre's tax revenues. Though beneficiaries do contribute a share of their wages towards premium, ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 6,000 a year depending on their pay scale, this accounts for just about 5 per cent of the total expenditure. The government shells out the remaining 95 per cent.
As of 2012-13, CGHS had 10.3 lakh card holders with a beneficiary base of 33.6 lakh (including family members) and spent more than Rs 1,600 crore to cover them. Almost 40 per cent of the cardholders are in
No cash limit for CGHS cardholders
Critics point out that the presence of an exclusive scheme like CGHS to fulfil the health needs of the country's decision-makers and their families could be one reason why there is so little enthusiasm or urgency in the government to curb rising healthcare costs.
The Employee State Insurance Scheme (ESIS), meant for workers of all establishments employing more than 10 people, has no cash limit either, but the per capita expenditure on its beneficiaries is just Rs 379. The ESIS covers 5.6 crore people, including workers and their families. CGHS and ESIS are the only insurance schemes that provide comprehensive healthcare coverage, including outpatient care, preventive/wellness care and hospitalization.
The CGHS also had the highest hospitalization rate among the state-funded insurance schemes (22 per 1,000 beneficiaries). Though this was lower than that of private insurance (64 per 1,000 beneficiaries), the average hospitalization expenditure per beneficiary was the highest under CGHS, higher than even the commercial insurers. And though central government-funded hospitals, including premier ones like AIIMS, are available to beneficiaries, a majority them chose corporate hospitals.
There is also a total lack of transparency on how the CGHS operates. "The CGHS collects information on coverage, infrastructure and utilization of its dispensaries but it does not publish the same. It neither reports financial nor any other type of performance publicly," pointed out the Planning Commission report. Unlike other publicly funded insurance schemes, even the claims ratio is not available for CGHS.