Background Information on the use of major surgery in India is scarce. In this study we aimed to bridge this gap by auditing hospital claims from Rajiv Aarogyasri Community Health Insurance Scheme, which provides access to free hospital care through state-funded insurance to 68 million beneficiaries, an estimated 81% of population in the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Methods Publicly available deidentified hospital claim data for all surgery procedures conducted between mid-2008 and mid-2012 were compiled across all 23 districts in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Results A total of 677,332 operative admissions (80% at private hospitals) were recorded at an annual rate of 259 per 100,000 beneficiaries, with male subjects accounting for 56% of admissions. Injury was the most common cause for operative admission (27%) with operative correction of long bone fractures being the most common procedure (20%) identified in the audit. Diseases of the digestive (16%), genitourinary (12%), and musculoskeletal (10%) systems were other leading causes for operative admissions. Most hospital bed-days were used by admissions for injuries (31%) and diseases of the digestive (17%) and musculoskeletal system (11%) costing 19%, 13%, and 11% of reimbursement. Operations on the circulatory system (8%) accounted for 21% of reimbursements. Annual per capita cost of operative claims was US$1.48. Conclusion The use of surgery by an insured population in India continued to be low despite access to financing comparable with greater spending countries, highlighting need for strategies, beyond traditional health financing, that prioritize improvement in access, delivery, and use of operative care.
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