ONE Illness Away From Poverty – Help Is at Hand

Healthcare is one of the basic needs of any individual. India’s constitution guarantees free healthcare for all its citizens. However in practice the private healthcare sector is attending to the majority of healthcare in India and most healthcare expenses are borne by the individuals.

According to a survey, more than half of India’s population do not obtain essential health services provided by the government and each year lakhs of people pay for healthcare out of their own pockets. These families are just one illness away from poverty!

Indians are visiting hospitals in higher numbers than at any time in the past – and visiting them more often. What’s good for their health, though, isn’t necessarily good for their wallets, with healthcare costs rising exponentially in the last decade.

Healthcare and social status:

In 2014, according to the latest NSSO (National Sample Survey Office – Statistics dept) report, 44 out of every 1,000 Indians in urban areas end up getting hospitalised (excluding childbirth) in a year. The trend is similar in rural India, and represents the need for expansion of healthcare facilities – both public and private domains, and the population’s increasing ability to access such services.

The public health care system was originally developed in order to provide a means to healthcare access regardless of socio-economic status. Now due to various reasons only people in very low income group use public healthcare system. Lower Middle and Middle class individuals tend to use private healthcare where the cost incurred is relatively much higher.

According to National Family Health Survey-3, the private medical sector remains the primary source of health care for 70% of households in urban areas and 63% of households in rural areas. The problem of healthcare access arises not only in huge cities but in rapidly growing newer small urban areas. To survive in this environment, urban people use non-governmental, private services which are plentiful but prohibitively expensive.

Cost of treating sudden Illness can change your standard of living:

The increase in access to healthcare has also brought with it a massive spike in costs. Between 2004 and 2014, the average medical expenditure per hospitalisation for urban patients increased by about 176%. For rural patients, it jumped by a little over 160%. Such spikes do no favours to India’s massive, uninsured population.

Over 85% of Indians in rural areas and 82% of urban residents have no health expenditure support. However, the high out of pocket cost from the private healthcare sector has led many households to incur Catastrophic Health Expenditure (CHE), which can be defined as health expenditure that threatens a household’s capacity to maintain a basic standard of living.

Costs of the private sector are only increasing. Health insurance covers only 20% of the population out of which half of them are under insured. Insurance premiums are increasing and attached with a lot of riders.

However, There are ways of reducing cost without compromising quality. The patients could benefit by 20 – 50% in costs reduction. The healthcare providers reduce the costs for various reasons like giving bulk volume discounts, optimized use of their spare capacity, driving promotional offers. They get more business without any sales and marketing spend from healthcare aggregators who can drive volume to them.

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