According to the data from India’s “Largest National Survey” on social consumption, conducted in 2018, only one-fifth of the Indians in rural and urban India have some private or government health insurance.
Well, Reasons for Lack of Health Insurance are—
- Low Income Groups—To be able to receive any health insurance, the low-income groups especially, are routinely forced to shell out their savings, borrow or—receive very poor-quality care, because of the little they can afford. India’s expenditure is high–one-fifth of India’s population spends more than 15% of their income on health expenses [Including the low-income group]. Indians are the fifth-highest private healthcare spenders among the low- and middle-income group–says India Spend Journal, reported in May 2017.
Rural poverty has grown by 5% points between 2017-18–pushing around 40 million people below the poverty line–according to one estimate based on the household consumption survey in December 2019.
- The extreme poor groups—
As a result of meagre insurance coverage, in 2018, about 79% of those in rural areas paid for medical expenses from their small savings, the “National Statistical Office” [NSO] Report said. But extreme needy groups cannot even get this. It, therefore, leaves the majority of rural Indians, exposed to Health-related Financial Shock. The Average Medical Expenditure for hospitalisation in a private hospital is seven times that of a government hospital. Given this figure, the extreme poor are not likely to avail hospitalisation at all.
The most significant result of paying for healthcare from their own pockets is poverty. “Since they cannot afford to pay for healthcare, the impoverished groups, delay seeking medical treatment which, in cases of diseases like tuberculosis, cancer, etc. turn severe and more expensive to treat. Many lose their lives in the bargain. Costs of healthcare keep people poor and push those just above the poverty line back into poverty. Eventually, due to high costs, they don’t visit healthcare and suffer. In rural areas, the poor remain deprived of access to government health support.
Government health insurance program—
Before the launch of Central Government’s “Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY], also called Prime Minister’s Health Protection Scheme, only 13% of those in rural areas, were covered under the central government insurance scheme. Since the coverage was inadequate, this program was launched in September 2019. “With the launch of PMJAY, the bottom 45% of the population now has health insurance. This is a tremendous jump towards Universal Health Coverage, though.
The next NSO will express, to what extent PMJAY has reduced out-of-pocket expenditure on health Insurance. Just insurance alone is not enough, as not all who are enrolled know about the scheme, not all the needy are covered, and not all have access to healthcare.
Health Insurance Coverage in India is weak because the private health insurance industry is still at an Embryonic Stage in India. People who can and willing to pay for insurance is quite low, and insurance premiums are high. Furthermore, due to Indians [especially those in rural India], having limited access to healthcare services such as doctors and hospitals, they are less likely to buy health insurance.
To help the underprivileged have access to full medical care, EKAM Foundation, an NGO, can help. It works towards providing quality healthcare to needy children and mothers in India. EKAM Foundation complements the government program and does not replace it. It mainly helps the society get medical help, food for the needy, insurance for those who lack, etc.
Log on to www.ekamoneness.org for any queries you may have or would like to give a helping hand.