Although India has a large privately managed healthcare system, most people still believe that the government should be responsible for providing healthcare services. Only a small proportion of voters, close to one in ten, feel that healthcare is a private matter that should be left to individuals themselves. Moreover, there is not much difference in this view between those who use government hospitals and those who use private hospitals (Table 1).
Nonetheless, there are some noticeable differences among the States. People in Uttar Pradesh (96%) and Rajasthan (93%) are particularly likely to say that the government should be responsible for providing healthcare services.
In terms of the kinds of services that people want the government to improve, close to two in five (37%) said the government should improve public healthcare by improving the .facilities available at government dispensaries and government hospitals; compared to just under a quarter (23%) who said that the government should provide health insurance to people through which they can get access to treatment at private hospitals. However, nearly a third of people thought the government should do both.
What type of service individuals want from the government is related to how they have personally experienced using healthcare services. For instance, individuals who have used public healthcare facilities are more likely to say that the government should improve dispensaries and government hospitals than those who have used private healthcare facilities (44% vs. 32%). However, those who have used private hospitals were more inclined to say that the government should help access to these hospitals by offering health insurance (28% vs. 18%) [Table 2].
People in urban areas are more likely to say that public hospitals need improvement than people in rural areas (43% vs. 32%). But people in rural areas are most likely to express a desire for both: enhanced public healthcare and access to treatment at private hospitals though government health insurance.
There were also some significant variations across States. At 64%, people in Rajasthan were most likely to say that the government should improve government hospitals. And at 39%, people in Gujarat were most likely to say that the government should improve access to private hospitals.
Overall, most people say that it is the government’s responsibility to oversee the healthcare system. While voters express a strong desire for enhancements to government healthcare services, they also expect the government to offer financial aid via health insurance schemes to enable them access to private healthcare facilities.
Jyoti Mishra and Devesh Kumar are researchers at Lokniti-CSDS