Today's Paper

Just 17% of Indians have health coverage

Fresh official data show that the number of people covered by health insurance in India could be far fewer than earlier calculations. Only 21.62 crore people, or 17 per cent of the population, had health insurance at the end of March 2014.

The estimate, prepared by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority and tabled in Parliament by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday, is sharply lower than that projected by the World Bank.

In a report, “Government-sponsored health insurance in India: are you covered?” released in October 2012, the World Bank estimated that over 30 crore people, or more than 25 per cent of the population, gained access to some form of health insurance by 2010, up from 5.5 crore during 2003-04. More than 18 crore of them were people living below the poverty line, the report said.

Noting that health spending was one of the important causes of poverty in India, the report found that from 2007 to 2012, the government-sponsored schemes contributed to a significant increase in the population covered by health insurance, at a pace possibly unseen elsewhere in the world.

On the basis of those trends, the report projected that more than 63 crore people, or about half the country’s population, could get health insurance by 2015. Spending through health insurance was forecast to reach 8.4 per cent of the total health spending, up from 6.4 per cent during 2009-10.

Report tabled in Parliament goes against World Bank figure of 25%