A nation with 1.25 Billion doesn’t have a universal healthcare system in place to serve its large population. While the major reason being the humongous population, the situation of healthcare services in India is dilapidated. According to the National Family Health Survey, 2% doctors serve the rural areas which constitute about 68% of the Indian population. With healthcare concentrated only in the urban centres, the situation isn’t good in the urban centres too. As per an industry estimate, only 17% of the population are served with private life insurance leaving the major chunk of the population pays themselves for the health care services they use. 70% of the rural Indian population don’t have access to hospitals and clinics. Some diseases take a toll on the patients and their families, leading to acute poverty for the rest of their lives.
While it is understood that it is difficult for India as a nation to provide free healthcare services to the people, India is slowly moving towards its own form of National Healthcare Scheme. After the NDA Government assumed power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced Pradhan Mantri Suraksha BimaYojana (PMSBY) in which a person in the age group of 18-50 years can be a part of the insurance scheme at Rs.330/annum. The scheme offers a risk cover of Rs.2 lakh for death due to any reason. This along with Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyothi Bima Yojana (PMJJYA) at Rs.12/annum for an insurance cover of Rs.2 lakh for accidental death and Rs.1 lakh for partial disability was the first form of insurance offered to the citizens of India. With more than 65000+ claims have been settled by the government, this seems to be the first step towards National Healthcare Scheme.
Courtesy: – techfactslive.com
Recently, the Congress-led Siddaramaiah government announced free healthcare services to all citizens of Karnataka in government and private hospitals for two sections of the society. The poorer society would be given free healthcare services at the nearest hospital at the government’s cost in government hospital and 30% reimbursement in private hospitals, other citizens can sign up for this healthcare at a mere premium of Rs.300/annum in rural areas and Rs.700/annum for people residing in urban areas. This includes accidents occurred on roads, animal bites or any serious incident under the motto “Treatment First, Payment Later”. This is a really good move by the government hoping to cover 14 million citizens of Karnataka at free of cost.
While the above two schemes are moving towards a tailor-made healthcare system in India. India with a huge population, it is difficult for the government to give free healthcare services to its population when 73% of the patients are forced to go to private hospitals for treatment. Due to the fear of paying bills, people don’t admit patients to hospitals who are a victim of an untoward incident. The Karnataka Government is moving in the right direction and in the rise of populist schemes; other states will soon join the bandwagon. This would surely be our form of a free healthcare system.
But is this really enough? I doubt. With poor accessibility to healthcare services and rising costs of healthcare and medicines, India needs to work hard on making government hospitals competent and efficient to fight the private hospitals, in order to maintain equilibrium in the market. With only 4.2% of our GDP spent on healthcare against the normal trend of 10-15% of the GDP spent in different nations across the globe, the government needs to think harder and implement required changes in the healthcare system in India.