One of the major hurdles that block the penetration of health insurance in India is – Lack of Awareness
While the country is climbing new heights in the field of healthcare, science, and technology but a large chunk of their population is still oblivious to medical insurance. And it is one of the primary reasons why India is still dealing with high mortality rates and alarming medical debts.
There are different health insurance plans in India for individuals, groups, women, senior citizens, and families. There are specific plans covering life-threatening diseases such as kidney failure, cancer, etc. But still, health insurance companies fail to tap a large percentage of the population. Big insurance players such as star health insurance, oriental insurance etc. can offer you plans as per your need.
There are top-up health insurance plans that are available now to offer the best possible medical coverage to people. There are plans that cover overseas medical treatment as well.
Despite being one of the rapidly growing industries in India, the awareness still remains low, because the country has still not made it mandatory to have health insurance coverage.
While millions of lives are at risk due to lack of awareness, marveling over the growth of the industry is futile.
Considering their mammoth population, only 27% of people have health insurance cover in India, as per joint reports by FICCI and KPMG. The number is startlingly low!
There is an astonishing gap, on one hand, India is trying to compete globally in terms of the healthcare sector. While on the other hand, medical inflation is on a constant rise.
Major snags leading to ignorance
The root cause seems to be the ignorance on part of the people and the government both. Another snag is the dependency on the corporate medical coverage that doesn’t include life-threatening diseases. Due to this reason, a major chunk of the population is forced to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket health care expenses.
To reiterate, a WHO report that came out in the year 2014, revealed that the almost 89% of the medical expenditure in India were out-of-the pockets. Whereas the global average of such expenses is only 18%.
Let’s ponder upon of some of the major hinderances-
- There is the internet, there are smartphones, and amid the digital revolution, the medical insurance sector still fails to tap the rural masses. The major setback and the problem area are the lack of medical facility for the destitute. They are miles away from availing the benefits of so-called health insurance policy.
- Lack of government launched schemes that are issued in the interest of rural population fail to reach the desired population.
- And the low-premium health insurance plans that are launched by the government for the rural masses, actually fail to reach them.
- The middle-class population is somewhere stuck in repayment of home loans, education loans, marriage loans, personal loans etc. and it makes them reluctant to buy a medical policy for their own benefit.
- Only the educated and the regular wage-earning population is buying a health insurance plan. And the best medical plans with extensive cover are made affordable only to the elite. The need of the hour is to launch economical medical insurance schemes to tap the missed-out population, which is actually a huge number.
Last but not least, lack of exposure, illiteracy, and knowledge are one of the major contributing factors towards ignorance in this regard.
The role of the insurance providers
To a gigantic population of 1.25 billion, only 5 percent of the private healthcare companies are available. Well, brings a huge scope of expansion for more private general insurance providers to cater to the segment that is missing out the health insurance services.
It’s time that the health insurance companies come up with schemes that resonate with a large percentage of people. And this can be achieved by:
- Spreading awareness about the benefits provided in various types of medical insurance plans in India.
- Eliminating the rural-urban disparity.
- Utilizing digital platforms such as YouTube, Radio, Mailers, Videos to increase both engagement and awareness.
- Initiating real-time interaction with customers through the website. Immediate feedbacks and redressal of doubts can help to gain the trust of customers.
- Introducing customer-centric plans and not company-centric health insurance plans.
- Launching campaigns rural areas and villages to help people understand how medical insurance can help meet their hospitalization expenses.
- Informing people about cashless hospitalization within the country and abroad.
- Citing examples that how out-of-pocket healthcare expenses can drain their entire savings.
- Enlightening them about the financial benefits of having a health policy.
Indian Government’s initiatives so far…
As per recent reports, by 2025 the total expenditure on healthcare is likely to increase from 1.15 percent to 2.5% of India’s GDP.
- To improve public health, the Indian Govt. had signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) in April 2018,
- For enhancement of medical products, the Indian Govt. also signed a MoU with the medical agencies of BRICS countries in the same year.
- In 2008, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna was launched by the Indian Govt. for BPL or below the poverty line segment. The scheme was launched in order to provide high-class medical treatment to the poor. And the best part is that nearly 130 million underprivileged people are got insured under this scheme. Also, smart cards were issued to more than 36 million families to help them avail free medical treatment.
Simply put, rather than just focusing on the low-income groups and the underprivileged, the government needs to launch schemes for the middle-class population to enable them the best medical facilities within India and abroad in a stress-free manner.
- Medical plans should be designed considering the medical inflation, in the interest of the policyholder and not as a profit-making product for the insurance company.
- Healthcare solutions covering both in-patient and out-patient treatment cost should be launched.
- Centralization of health insurance schemes would also help. Both private and government insurance companies should come up with medical insurance policies with a unified fund management system.
Such measures would motivate people to get health insurance and develop their faith in such schemes. It will further help a large number of people avail the best medical treatment in India. It will ensure the availability of funds to a large number of people. And help them move closer to the aim of providing the best healthcare services to all.
There is no second that thought that India is witnessing a remarkable economic growth and development. Nevertheless, it is a long way to reach our health goals. Making health insurance available to all will be a turning point. To cater to our gigantic population, it is imperative for the government to launch effective health insurance schemes for its people.
In the interim, proactive measures by the health insurance providers also need to be implemented.