The healthcare system of one country can be thoroughly different from that of another country, and so does India’s from that of the United States. When a child is born in India, with the outcome perspective, the life expectancies for a male and a female are 63 years and 66 years, respectively.
In contrast, the same in the U.S. is 76 years and 8 years for a male and a female, respectively. Moreover, children when below 5 years of age are likely to die in India as compared to the U.S.
This article is based on how India is still struggling in the healthcare domain.
Today, almost everyone out there is familiar with the fact that India is the second most populous country worldwide (Says Demographics of India), which is closely one-fifth of the world’s population. About 72.2% of the country’s population lives in villages, and there would be no wonder if we told you that more than 50% of this population lacks insurance awareness, especially those who are senior citizens (i.e. above 60 years of age).
There are over 30 non-life insurance companies in India, which offer a total of hundreds of senior citizen health insurance policies. The country, at the same time, has online insurance aggregators that allow individuals to compare health insurance online and purchase the best fit policy at an affordable premium.
On comparing the healthcare systems and present scenarios in the world’s two biggest democracies – India and the U.S., it is concluded that India needs to improve the outcomes and access while ensuring that the decision-makers are also familiar with this need of the country.
Some key areas with major differences in both the countries are listed below:
Public Healthcare Picture
As compared to the U.S. and other developed countries, India lags far behind when it comes to the clean potable water, public health picture, appropriate nutrition, sanitation, and access to the healthcare system. The most awaited budget of this year also did not address systematic problems appropriately, focusing primarily on health insurance policies, public-private partnership instead.
The scenario, on the other hand, is way rosier in the U.S., where per person cost of healthcare expenses is the highest in the world. This is because the successive government has prioritized the reforms in the healthcare industry.
Type of Healthcare
India has kind of a mixed healthcare system to be precise. Although the government ensures that the healthcare is delivered at all levels (i.e. primary, secondary, and tertiary), the country has a myriad of private sector hospitals with assured better medical amenities. However, not all of them are open for an average person, as they are too expensive. The healthcare scenario in the U.S. if far better since the government has prioritized the healthcare delivery over everything.
In 2010, there was Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or PPACA), also known as Obamacare incorporated into the healthcare system of the U.S. The amendments in the U.S. healthcare system were aimed at reforming the health care delivery, thereby providing affordable, quality health care to a larger number of Americans. Consumer protection, insurance exchanges, taxes, regulations, and subsidies were taken into account to make the new system work. In India, a similar initiative was taken by the government to make healthcare amenities affordable and accessible to a vast share of the population.
Huge Difference in % of GDP Spend on Healthcare
Although India houses closely one-fifth share of the world’s population, it spends only 4% of its GDP on its health care industry, which in the U.S. is 17%. In accordance with the data collected by the WHO (World Health Organization), the U.S. and India stand at the 37th and 112th levels, respectively, on the list of countries performing the best in the healthcare industry worldwide. Although the U.S. still has a scope of improvement in its healthcare industry, India lags far behind and has a very long way to go.
Out-of-the-pocket Medical Expenses
Out of the whole lot of Indian population, close to 70% of its share pays out the medical bills and healthcare expenses out of their own pockets. This could be due to the lack of insurance awareness, as people don’t prefer to buy health insurance in India. On the other hand, the out-of-the-pocket expense in the U.S. is as low as 10% to 12% of the total population.
Health Insurance is a Must
If you’re a citizen of the U.S., then you must have a health insurance policy. Failing to have such a policy could impose a penalty on you. Also, the employers in the U.S. provide health coverage to their employees as per the guidelines of the U.S. government. In contrast, there is no such law in India, and it is up to individuals whether or not they like to buy a health insurance policy for themselves.
Health insurance policies in the U.S. are comprehensive and they provide coverage for a normal fever to a medical emergency that requires hospitalization. On the other hand, in India, if you visit a physician, the policy does not cover the expenses like doctor’s consultation fee, medical bills etc. These policies, typically, cover pre and post hospitalization expenses for up to 60 and 90 days, respectively, which is subject to the policy. All other additional expenses are to be taken care of by the policyholders.
Higher Premium Rates
In the U.S., as a considerably large number or people are covered by health insurance policies of one or more types, the premium rates are significantly high. In India, the scenario is completely opposite to that in the U.S. In other words, only a few people purchase health insurance policies, the premium rates are comparatively less due to the cut-throat competition in the Indian insurance market.
An Individual, 30 years of age, can purchase a health insurance policy offering a sum assured of Rs. 5 Lakh in exchange for a monthly premium of Rs. 500. In fact, for the same sum assured of Rs. 5 Lakh, an individual may find different health insurance policies that require more/less than Rs. 500 per month.
Despite such an extreme competition, health insurance approach in India is comparatively poor.