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Should India Follow the China Model in Universal Health Insurance Plan?

December 01 2018

The focus should be on reducing out of pocket expenditure on healthcare : Yip

While India has made rapid progress in technology and advancements in medical facilities, but even after 70 years of independence, the penetration of health insurance plans among its citizens remains a point of concern. According to estimates, only 20% of the population in the country have mediclaim insurance while over 65% citizens spend out of their pocket for healthcare services.

So, the question that arises time and again is whether India should follow the China model of universal health insurance plan with a blanket insurance product for all the citizens. While there are many positive steps taken by the government such as the launch of Ayushman Bharat scheme in this regard, many economists are of a different opinion.

Winnie Yip, a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School for Public Health opined that India should not go the China way while implementing the Ayushman Bharat scheme. While addressing the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) health summit in New Delhi, she said that though China has achieved universal health coverage, it has done little to reduce the out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure for the patients. So, the focus should be on reducing OOP expenses rather than increasing the insurance penetration.

According to the initial government figures of 2016, health insurance coverage had reached 95% of the total population in China, however 32.4% people incurred OOP expenses for healthcare. Whereas in India, around 65.1% of the population still pay out of their own pocket to avail healthcare facilities.

*Source: The Hindu Business Line

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