Let’s Face it, Healthcare in India is Expensive!
Sayandeep contemplates –
‘Healthcare’ is one of the most fundamental aspects of a society’s well being. In fact, ‘healthcare’ is taken as a very important factor signalling how a country is performing. But not everything is merry when it comes to healthcare in the Indian context. The exchange of cash that goes out of the wallet to get the services is enough to make an average Indian daunt over the entire process. Nothing is ‘healthy’ about healthcare, it seems. It is deeply saddening that such a basic necessity like healthcare is meant to provide solace to only the elite. But one might ask, ‘Oh! There are government-run public hospitals, clinics and healthcare centres in India which provide cheap healthcare services and do cater to all.’ The reality is extremely different.
The condition of Healthcare in India
Health is central to an individual’s happiness. The WHO also points out the importance of a healthy society in order to have a healthier economy, since a healthy population will live more, earn better and also save more. And of course, proper accessibility to services in the matters of complications, problems or even betterment of one’s health, is extremely crucial. This applies to each and every individual of a society. Nobody should be deprived of good healthcare in the country. But sadly, this is what is happening. Research says that counties must spend at least more than 6% of their GDP into healthcare. India spends only about 1.5% of its GDP on healthcare. In a country of about 1.3 billion people, this is surely less. It also means that state-sanctioned healthcare is extremely less funded. The most prosperous countries like the Nordic and the Scandanavian countries realise that the state needs to spend a lot on healthcare for it to be counted as a basic necessity which can be provided to the population for free or minimum cost. And hence, these countries have prospered a lot when it comes to providing excellent healthcare facilities. A lot of funds passing into the healthcare system of a country also means that the quality of healthcare being provided is also really good. In India, since the public health sector is less funded, the arena of healthcare is extremely capitalised. Due to this nature of a free economy in the healthcare sector, with extremely high demand, the prices of private healthcare in India continues to boom at an unprecedented rate. This has risen to a point where even an ‘average-earning’ person in India finds it difficult to pay for healthcare costs. The alternative? Public healthcare, as already discussed, is minimally funded. So, the quality of healthcare that accompanies it, is not of great quality. On top of that, the public healthcare system in India also lacks sufficient infrastructure to serve people. The result is that the poor are deprived of good healthcare in the country.
Source: Community Health
An article published in the ‘Times of India’ said that in India, Hospitalisation is 6 times more expensive in the private sector than the public sector. A study carried out by TOI in the private hospitals of Bengaluru and published in the same article suggested that the cost of a ‘one-day’ stay in an ICU in a private hospital amounts up to almost Rs. 30000. Not only that, but surgery and operation costs are ceiling breaking in the private domain. The lesser earning individuals and families which stay in rural areas have a tougher time. More than two-third of the medical professionals in the country are concentrated in urban areas. So, this gives the residents of rural areas lesser accessibility to healthcare systems. Medicine makes up for a big chunk of the medical sector. Medicines are extremely capitalised and require a serious amount of monetary investment. In fact, sometimes medicines also take over the expenses charged by the doctors, surgeons and medical professionals. An article published by ‘The Diplomat’ said that over 70% of the total medical expenses in India, is paid by patients out of their own pockets. This is one of the highest in the world.
Expensive Mental Healthcare
Talking about mental healthcare in India, it is an extremely expensive sector. The average cost of a therapy session in a metropolis in India is around Rs. 1500. The expenses are enough to make an individual think twice or even thrice before approaching mental health services in the country. ‘The Mint’ says that there is about 1 mental health professional per 100,000 people in India. A lot of young people are also afraid of accessing the services because of their high cost. The stigma of mental health adds more to the problem since a lot of guardians do not want or ‘feel the need’ to fund their children with the mental health services that they might require. Also, mental health problems are a part of every section of society. But despite that, lesser earning individuals do not have an option but to opt-out of mental health care even when they require it the most. Psychiatric medications too, are very expensive to buy, depriving many who cannot afford it.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Healthcare as a domain is often politicised. There’s often a demand for ‘votes’ in exchange for ‘good healthcare’ in democratic structures. For example, The Bharatiya Janata Party in 2017 promised an increase of the share of the GDP to 2.5% by the year 2025. The reach of schemes like ‘Ayushman Bharat’ has also been quite limited. The citizens in this country till date have been denied affordable and good quality healthcare. There’s an urgency in the country to work for the betterment of this sector. The process of healthcare in society must be kept in check. Additionally, countries must be willing to spend larger portions of their income on providing healthcare to its citizens. Every individual on this planet deserves to get accessible, inexpensive and good quality healthcare from trained professionals. The sooner all of us realise this, the better.