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Insurance Article

A Shift In Indian Healthcare Perspective – Health Now A Low Priority

November 01 2016
Healthcare - Low Priority

Recent technological advancements and the private sector changing health behaviour

The Indian healthcare scenario is ridden with contradictions. The nation's contribution to public expenditure is only around 1% of the GDP. Despite India being home to the cheapest healthcare systems in the world, its majority of the population finds medical costs unaffordable.

Burden of Medical Costs

The rising cases of non-communicable diseases and the scarcity of beds per 1000 people heighten the burden of hospice care. The medical inflation, cost of treatment and drugs add fuel to the fire. According to a joint study conducted by EY and FICCI 2016, 62% of medical expenditure by Indian masses is made out-of-pocket. With such worrisome statistics, it is safe to assume medical expenses for an average family can be as good as declaring bankruptcy.

The sad truth still prevails that many people opt out of any healthcare programs altogether, and choose the inevitable fate of a disease instead of adding to their families’ financial burden.

Private Healthcare Favoured

The surprising growth of private players in the healthcare realm has been a respite to the urban and rural populace. An EY and FICCI 2016 study state that 76% of people who prefer a private healthcare facility over the public facility. The lack of infrastructure and bed capacity in the government hospital could be one of the driving reasons for this change. Substantiating this is 70% increase in the private sector bed capacity in the past decade.

Another recent Indian research brought to light the reason behind this increasing favour of private sector healthcare. It states that although the private sector at times overcharges for treatment, it offers superior quality healthcare. This could be the prevailing logic behind more people visiting a private hospital and clinic; which has grown to nearly 68% compared to the counterparts.

There Is Hope

In a growing country like India, where the healthcare boom is imminent, it is surprising that only 5% of the Indian population subscribes to a health insurance plan. The solution for battling medical costs is directly tied to having a disciplined policy for the family. This not only reduces out-of-pocket expenses, which are hard to come by and at times, cost a lifetime of savings; it helps the Indians plan their medical future, a concept that is currently unfamiliar.

Planning the medical future by opting for specific health plans gives leeway for the consumers to choose their healthcare options. The health mind-set is changing; the industry can only be excited about such progressive transformations. 70% of people are keen of managing their health and 49% use internet to self-educate about health, states the EY and FICCI study.

The good news is that there is hope for the dream of affordable healthcare for the majority. The reform towards a preventative health care instead of sick culture is one aspect. The increasing understanding of technology in healthcare, investment and entry of new players in health tech, makes affordable healthcare to the Indian masses a close reality.

The solution lies perhaps in technology and innovation driven processes to revolutionise the access to healthcare and the behaviour of the masses.

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