Experts at the Fifth Health Insurance Summit - 'Health Insurance: Vision 2020' organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), said that the two big problems that afflicted Indian Healthcare today were those of accessibility and affordability.
Health resources though available, are inequitably distributed. Better health insurance coverage and higher penetration could help resolve this issue.
According to a press release from India PR Wire, Mr A. Vaidheesh, Chairman of the Summit and MD Johnson & Johnson Medical India said, "it is not one problem but a multitude of issues which we all need to work together to address. Our objective for 2020 should be how to get at least 50 per cent of the population have access to health insurance and adequate healthcare."
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 need of the hour is to make available innovative insurance products at multiple price points. Major recommendations included in the white paper focused on the need for public-private partnerships to meet the health insurance needs of the country, as well as government initiatives to reduce the premiums and collection costs, particularly for people from rural regions.
Mr. J. Hari Narayan, Chairman IRDA shared similar views at the CII Summit, stating, "Even though the governmental health provision system is free, in reality healthcare costs are borne primarily by patients. Over 40 per cent of people who use healthcare services do so by selling assets or going into debt. Health insurance, therefore, can play an important role."
With changing demographics and psycho-graphics, Indians today demand better quality and accessibility of healthcare, and look for a tool to defer, reduce or altogether avoid out-of-pocket payment to finance growing healthcare needs. Health insurance, therefore, finds greater acceptability. The market thus has great prospects, but it is essential for the providers to identify products that will suit and satisfy individual insurance needs.