A few facts based on research, for your reference.
- · Health insurance ensures public funds goes directly into the pockets of private insurance agencies and private hospitals. The FDI directly paves the way for these market players who want your money not your health.
- · Private hospitals in India are completely unregulated. Your family member could die due to negligence or denial or care. You could be thrown out of the hospital the day you run out of money. You could run up enough loans to change your socio-economic bracket but you will not find any agency in the country that you could complain to. In a government hospital, you could at the least get the doctor suspended.
- · Health insurance is like your pre-paid phone – it offers packages. For additional services you have to top up from your pocket. So imagine, someone you love is lying sick on the bed and the doctor says “Your insurance covers X treatment which offers 50% survival, but if you pay for Y treatment, there is 80% survival”. What an exciting choice for one to make!!
- · When health insurance is available, hospitals perform unnecessary tests and procedures. One hospital conducted 600 hysterectomies in 900 days. There is no Body (that cannot be bribed) in India that monitors whether rational treatment and diagnostics have been conducted. When you question them,, they say they are the ‘experts’!!
- · Complicated cases are shifted out of private hospitals because they do not fit the package.
- · Insurance covers only hospitalization costs and not out-patient, so chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and cancer do not get covered.
- · Public health diseases like malaria, dengue, chikungunya, tuberculosis are not covered and these are on the rise, especially among the urban middle class.
- · Private hospitals take cases like hysterectomies but do not take up caesarian because the former is profitable while the latter is not.
The best way forward is similar to the NHS in the UK – Nationalised health services – free to all patients at the point of service delivery and funded through tax based financing. This is what the High Level Expert group set up by the Planning commission also recommends.