Why 70% of Indians do not have health insurance? Why is this a problem and how can it be fixed?: “Health is one of the most significant infrastructures of development.
”Here’s a statement that hardly needs any explanation; we all know the importance of good health in our personal lives as well as on a global scale.
Every country strives to provide the best healthcare services to their citizens. And yet, it is a harsh reality that quality medical care and treatment is frighteningly expensive in major parts of the world.
Yes, there are nations that have successfully implemented a free or universal healthcare system, such as Canada, Australia and Israel to name a few.
But most developing nations and even some first world countries like the USA are still struggling with a system that most people can’t afford.
The high cost of health services has certainly made it a financial burden for the everyday person rather than a basic right.
As such, one of the best ways to prepare beforehand for unexpected medical expenses is by getting an appropriate health insurance policy.
Insurance providers are even coming up with a variety of plans so that individuals can actually choose from a wide range of options to find a policy that suits them best.
Even though investing in a proper health insurance scheme seems like a sensible and profitable decision, only an approximate 30% of Indian citizens are covered by some form of health insurance.
No wonder we often find news reports about people with illnesses who either die or simply wait for their certain demise with no hopes, because they don’t have lakhs of rupees to spend for their treatment.
All in all, it does paint a disheartening picture of the Indian health sector.
Keeping all these points in mind, we need to ponder over three major questions:
1. Why is it so crucial for Indian citizens to have a health insurance plan?
2. Why does the general population have a reluctant approach toward health insurance?
3. How can we change this approach and convince more people to opt for a health insurance policy?
Let us analyse the answers to each of these questions one at a time.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR CITIZENS TO GET A SUITABLE HEALTH INSURANCE?
To answer this, we simply consider two main factors: Standard of living, and the economic demographics of our country.
We may be one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but it cannot be denied that at a ground level, the overall standard of living is quite low.
A significant portion of our nation is comprised of the rural population, while many people in urban settlements are also living under subpar conditions.
This makes people much more susceptible to different illnesses and disorders, with increasing pollution and lack of proper hygiene making matters worse.
Then the second factor, i.e., economic demographics, comes into play. The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) states that 28% of the Indian population still lies in poverty And a large part of the remaining 72% of people belong to the middle class.
For such people, spending lakhs on medical treatment is simply out of the question. The bottom line is that we have millions of people who are quite vulnerable to severe health conditions, with no financial security to support their health-related expenses.
Of course, insurance will not solve the problems of poor healthcare, but it does make services accessible and affordable for people.
WHY DON’T THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN INDIA HAVE A HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN?
There are many reasons due to which people do not consider investing in health insurance policies. We discuss the most prominent reasons below.
Lack of awareness
Since most people don’t have detailed information about the benefits of getting health insurance, they are less likely to give much importance to it.
Negligence of personal health
For many people, personal fitness and well-being is not as important an issue as finances, career, etc. Not being conscious of one’s health, such people do not consider health insurance to be of any significance.
Thinking of insurance as a financial burden
In today’s competitive world, the cost of living rises continuously making people very concerned about their economic stability. So for most people, paying the monthly premium for the insurance is just an extra financial burden.
Sceptical of insurance companies and wariness of unnecessary hassles
People generally do not trust insurance companies easily, and it takes a great deal of convincing to get someone to buy an insurance plan. Reports of companies rejecting customer’s claims are also not unheard of, and this further fuels the lack of trust that people showcase towards the agencies.
The hassle of paperwork and documentation is another factor that the busy working-class people do not wish to be involved in.
Insufficient knowledge of policies, regulations and claims
Many people do not have a clear and accurate knowledge of how the insurance policy works, what health issues it does (or doesn’t) cover, the process of filing for claims and reasons for claims to be rejected. As a result, they are not very confident about getting an insurance plan for themselves.
Now, this brings us to the last and most important question?
WHAT STEPS MUST BE TAKEN TO CONVINCE MORE PEOPLE TO INVEST IN HEALTH INSURANCE POLICIES?
Digital Advertising to increase awareness
Social media, internet and other digital mediums have proven to be an effective platform to reach out to a large audience. So digital advertising and social media campaigns can educate a lot of people about the advantages of health insurance.
Introducing policies that specifically target the rural population
While the people living in cities and urban areas have at least some basic knowledge about insurance, the people in rural regions are quite unaware of it. The government, as well as the private sector, must focus on implementing policies that are suitable to people of remote areas so that they too can reap the benefits of health insurance.
Simplify the process of applying as well as claiming for insurance plans
If the application and the claiming process becomes simple with minimal paperwork, it will surely encourage people to apply for the plan.
Insurance companies should have a warm approach to customers
Insurance agencies should try their best to educate their customers about the different plans and the details related to them. They should make sure that every customer leaves with a positive experience whether they choose to get insured or not.
As for us, the general public, we need to gradually change our negative or negligent approach when it comes to health insurance and see it not as an extra expense but as a wise investment. After all, we have always been hearing the famous saying since our childhood days, that ‘Health is Wealth’.