India is climbing incredible heights in the field of healthcare and technology but health insurance is still not available to all. And this is one of the biggest reasons India is still dealing with huge medical debts.
However, health insurance is one of the rapidly growing sectors in the country. Despite the nascent growth, the penetration of health insurance still remains quite low because it is still not essential to buy a health cover for everyone. A number of health insurance plans are offered for individuals, families, senior citizens, women, and groups. Nowadays, it is easier to compare health insurance on Policy Bazaar from specific plans that cover life-threatening diseases such as heart attack, kidney failure, cancer etc. But still, the medical insurance companies fail to tap a major section of the population.
Marveling over economic developments is pointless, while thes lack of health insurance continues to put the lives of millions at risk.
Modi’s Ayushman Bharat Scheme
With this new medical insurance scheme, the central government aims to cover at least 50 lakh Indians and make India the next healthcare hub.
The Ayushman Bharat programme has two parts- The one that has captured the public conversations and policy formulation and public conversations is the insurance component that promises health insurance cover of INR 5 lakhs per family for in-patient and tertiary care. The other is the central government’s assurance to develop health and wellness centers for primary care.
What the Modi’s Ayushman Bharat Scheme Has to Offer?
- In the first year of the scheme, 40% of the spending or 5,260 crore rupees would go to public sector hospitals
- 60% of the spending or 7,250 crore rupees would go to private sector hospitals
- Nearly 10 lakh people have already profited from the scheme
- By December 2022, 5 lakh Health Wellness Centers would be set up
- In the first year, 43,000extra hospital beds would be in demand
- Close to 5,000more doctors are likely to be in demand by next year
- 7 crorehospitalizations are likely in the initial year
Government Initiatives towards Improving Health Insurance
- In 2008, the central govt. launched the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna for people below the poverty line. The aim was to provide the underprivileged population with adequate medical treatment. As reports suggest, nearly 130 million destitute are indemnified under this Yojna. And approximately, 36 million families have been provided with smart cards to ensure them free medical treatment.
- In April 2018, the government also signed an MoU with WHO and BRICS countries to improve public health and enhancement of medical products.
- By 2025 the government also aims to increase the total health expenditure from 15% to 2.5 % of the GDP
The primary focus is on the underprivileged and economically weaker section, but the government also needs to promote health insurance for the urban population also, in order to achieve the medical insurance goal.
Only 27% of the Indians are covered by health insurance-
As per a joint report by FICCI and KPMG, only 27% of the population is covered by health insurance. Comparing with our huge population, the numbers are astonishingly low.
While we are trying to match the rest of the world in terms of private and public healthcare, the cost of healthcare is increasing continuously.
The root cause is the ignorance on part of the people and the government both. And another major reason is counting on the corporate mediclaim policy, which does not cover critical illnesses. Due to this, most of the people end up spending their entire savings on medical treatment in India.
WHO reports also reveal that approximately, 89 percent of the people in India pay for medical expenses from their own pocket. This percentage is quite high in comparison to a global percentage of 18 percent.
Enumerated below are some of the major drawbacks-
- One of the major reasons is that the Government launched initiatives and schemes fail to tap the desired population.
- Ignorance and illiteracy continue to be one of the major factors due to which most of the people are still unaware of the benefits of medical insurance cover in India.
- Only a limited number of people can buy medical insurance. Lack of health insurance policies for mid-income groups continues to make a hole in their pocket.
- Amid digitization, the rural population still remains deprived of the benefits.
- Current loans & EMIs make it difficult for people to spend on a mediclaim policy. Ignorance in this regard makes it even more challenging.
Steps-Ahead To Counter Medical Inflation in India
Introducing comprehensive medical plans offering coverage for diagnostic procedures, in-patient, and out-patient medical expenses are the need of the hour.
Both private insurers and government should launch centralized health insurance schemes with an integrated fund management system.
With such initiatives, a lot of people will be able to access funds. It will allow a large number of people to avail the best healthcare treatment and services. Every step in this regard will move the government close to the goal of providing adequate health coverage and the best medical services to all.
In a nutshell
Undeniably, India is observing significant economic growth and industrial development. Yet, there is a long road ahead to reach the goal. Providing health insurance to all will be a game changer. Looking at the gigantic population, the government needs to come up with effective medical insurance policies for its people.
In the interim, the government also needs to take proactive measures together with the health insurance providers.