Experts agree that faster health insurance penetration is the key to ensuring healthcare access in India
A Whitepaper on health insurance was recently released by PricewaterhouseCoopers at Dr. Marri Channa Reddy Human Resource Development Institute, Hyderabad, and India Health Progress recommends health insurance as one of the key pillars to increase access to healthcare in India especially among the economically challenged patients.
Health insurance has historically played a pivotal role in improving access to healthcare around the world. Unfortunately, less than 15 per cent of the Indian population is covered under some form of health insurance, including government-supported schemes. Only around 2.2 per cent of the population is covered under private health insurance, of which rural health insurance penetration is less than 10 per cent.
The released whitepaper highlights the broad issues afflicting the health insurance sector, taking into account the views of all industry stakeholders — patients, physicians, insurance service providers, hospitals, as well as government and regulatory representatives.
Speaking on the occasion Sujay Shetty, Leader, Pharma Life Sciences, PricewaterhouseCoopers said, “India’s diverse population has limited purchasing power. Penetrating this market therefore requires innovative insurance products at multiple price points. But innovation in the current Indian health insurance market needs to evolve considerably. Low-priced insurance products can play a big role in ensuring higher healthcare access for poor sections of the society.”
The final recommendations included in this whitepaper focus on the requirement of a new business model to create the demand for insurance products. Considering that private and public insurance companies have all failed in some way or the other to meet the country’s health insurance needs, and given the massive shortfall in various segments, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) would be best to meet these needs. A PPP permits the best points of both systems to prevail, whereby social obligations can be met while simultaneously ensuring profits too.
“Affordability of healthcare by low income sections of the society is a matter of concern when it comes to healthcare access. Also, the out of pocket spending by middle income families on healthcare leads to economic depletion hence affecting their overall health needs. Health insurance help in a long way to solve this issue”, said Aman Gupta, Principal Advisor, India Health Progress.
Apart from the requirement of a new business model, another recommendation was to reduce the premiums and collection costs particularly for the people from rural regions.