Karnataka has the third highest road accident rate in the country

With 23 road traffic accident deaths reported in the State every day (according to the National Crime Records Bureau), Karnataka has earned the dubious distinction of having the third highest accident rate in India (the other two being Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra). Yet none of the government health insurance schemes cover road traffic accidents.

Sharan Patil, chairperson and Chief Orthopaedic Surgeon of Sparsh Hospitals, told The Hindu on Wednesday it was important to cover road traffic accidents under the government schemes.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the inauguration of the hospital’s Advanced Trauma Centre on Infantry Road.

Cashless payment

Launched to provide cashless treatment to families living below the poverty line for major ailments that require hospitalisation and surgery, the government health insurance schemes cover cardiovascular diseases, cancer (surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy), neurological diseases, renal problems, burns, neonatal cases and poly-trauma cases that are not covered under the Motor Vehicle insurance.

However, road traffic accident (RTA) fatalities and injuries that place a huge strain on the economic and social fabric of the family are left out of these schemes.

Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) M. Madan Gopal, who admitted that RTA injuries could not be treated under the government schemes, said it was because the idea was to provide high-end surgical procedures that are not available in government hospitals. “An expert committee has identified the procedures that need to be covered under these schemes. If we start covering all procedures without checks and balances, there will be room for irregularities as it happened in Andhra Pradesh. Besides, RTAs are covered under motor vehicle insurance scheme,” Mr. Madan Gopal told The Hindu.

Although integrated networks of trauma centres had been established on the national highways across the country, they are non-functional in Karnataka because of lack of infrastructure, coordination and manpower, Dr. Patil said. “As we have been observing that a number of lives are lost because victims of RTAs on highways are not brought to hospitals in time, we have submitted a proposal to the government that we are ready to run the trauma centres on a public-private-partnership basis,” he said.

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