Data

Data: How lack of health insurance is affecting the poorest in India

Improving access: The swanky appearance of charitable hospitals often misleads poor patients who are eligible to get subsidised or free treatment. File photo

Improving access: The swanky appearance of charitable hospitals often misleads poor patients who are eligible to get subsidised or free treatment. File photo  

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Owing to low health insurance coverage in India, especially for the poor, households have to dip into their savings or borrow to meet hospital bills

A majority of Indians did not have health insurance as of 2017-18. Coverage levels varied widely based on ‘wealth classes’. The poorest were the least covered as they mostly depended on government schemes, while the richest fared better and relied more on private insurance

Abysmal coverage

Among the poorest households, 90% did not have health insurance. While richer households fared better, coverage among them was still poor (67% of urban households lacked insurance). The table shows the % of households without health insurance across wealth classes (from poorest 20%: 1 to the richest 20%: 5)

How many are not covered?

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Insurance source

Of those with health insurance, most were dependent on government schemes. The only exceptions were the richest urban households who used private insurance the most. With just 9.6% coverage, the urban poor were the worst affected. In urban areas, workers in both government and private sectors were covered by their employers to an extent. Only a meagre share of rural folk received that benefit. Table shows % of households with insurance

Insurance coverage

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Health budget

Urban households spent more on hospitalisation than rural households across all wealth classes. Table shows average expense incurred for treatment for every case of hospitalisation (in ₹). As most households lacked insurance, they were forced to spend out of their pockets. This particularly affected the poor whose insurance coverage levels were lowest among wealth classes

Hospital expenses

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Money source

As out-of-pocket expenditure was high, households were forced to dip into their savings or borrow. Table shows % of hospital expenses that were made by dipping into savings and borrowing

Financial strain

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Source: Key indicators of social consumption, NSS 75th round (2017-18)

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 5:39:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/data/data-how-is-lack-of-health-insurance-affecting-the-poorest-in-india/article30277019.ece

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