Healthcare costs in both rural, as well as urban areas in the country, have gone up drastically.
In rural areas, the average cost of health care has gone up by 22 times in just the last seven years. On the other hand, in urban areas, the average rise in healthcare costs has soared up an alarming 40 times in the same period.
This is based on a study done across six states of India, namely Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Assam, Jharkhand, and Bihar. The study was conducted by renowned NGO Prayas. The study is reported to have taken both hospitalized and non-hospitalized treatment into consideration. It also included other areas such as the cost of diagnostics, hospitalization, medicines, etc.
The alarming rise in costs of health care is mostly accounted to the excessive privatization of health care as well as rising inflation. In addition, it is stated that the failure of social schemes is also a reason for this high rise in cost.
Mentionable that the last World Health Statistics 2011 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) had shown India lacking behind in the health care sector. In fact, it has shown that China has done much better and outperformed India in improving the general health conditions of its citizens during the past decade. The Chinese, according to the WHO report has less infectious disease cases, have a wider coverage of various medical services, and are seeing a longer life expectancy than India. Another WHO report on health systems financing showcased the medical insurance reforms done by China as an example for developing countries. China had initiated a scheme in 2003 to increase the proportion of its population covered by formal insurance from 15 percent in 2003 to 90 percent by 2011. The scheme has greatly improved medical financing in rural areas.
As developing a health insurance system requires more access to basic health care, the factor that immediately influences poor people’s acceptance of medical services is the income disparity. Both China and India still have a huge section of their populations living in extreme poverty (living on less than 1 US Dollar per day). However this is what makes the difference, – India has about 42 percent of poor people living on less than 1 US dollar per day while China has only about 16 percent of such people.
The reports showing the poor fare of India in the health space is alarming and concerning. It is time the Indian Government and policymakers makes some serious reforms in the health space.