The healthcare sector in India has accomplished new heights over the past decades. Due to the presence of advanced medical facilities and qualified medical professionals, the country is now a preferred choice for medical tourists. At the same time, the growing burden of diseases and rising healthcare costs are a cause of stress for many families. What makes the situation worse is that there is a lack of awareness of health insurance in India, and many individuals pay for medical expenses with their hard-earned savings and thereby driven to poverty.
Buying health insurance must be the foremost aspect of a good financial plan for the future. Yet, a majority of the country’s population depend on savings to bear medical treatment costs. It points to the hardships a family might have to face in the future owing to the loss of savings. Health insurance awareness in India is low, and it is a roadblock that hinders the growth of the health insurance sector.
Despite this scenario, the health insurance sector has grown significantly over the past decades, with the introduction of new health plans being more consumer-centric and affordable. Moreover, the government is making efforts to protect the uninsured people in the country and thus creating awareness. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna, under Ayushman Bharat, is the largest health insurance/assurance scheme in the world.
Health Insurance Awareness in India
According to a report ‘Global analysis of Health Insurance in India’ by Ernst & Young and Oxford Economics, India is one of the least insured countries, with a health insurance penetration rate of only about 20%.
The measure of insurance penetration and insurance density reflects the level of development of the sector. The insurance penetration is the percentage of insurance premium to GDP. At present, insurance penetration is low in India compared to other countries. Insurance density is the (per capita premium) ratio of premium in a given year to the total population. The insurance density in India in 2017 was 73 USD (with 55 USD in life and 18 in the non-life category). There is a huge difference if we compare these figures with those of other countries in the world.
One of the factors why many people do not consider buying personal health insurance is because of their dependence on mediclaim policy offered by employers. They overlook the fact that such policies have certain restrictions and are valid until they stay with a particular employer. Some people avoid buying health insurance as they think that it is an expensive option. Among other reasons why people do not invest in health insurance plans, one is illiteracy and the lack of knowledge about the pluses of buying health insurance. People from rural areas are mainly left out as they are not exposed to relevant information. Moreover, the public health care system lacks adequate staff and funds, while private healthcare facilities have been unaffordable for them.
How has Health Insurance Sector Evolved?
Health insurance is one of the rapidly growing segments in the non-life insurance sector in India. The growth of technology is noteworthy. The internet has helped people to get easy access to health insurance products. Nowadays, one can buy a health policy from the comfort of home, just by browsing a website, selecting a suitable policy, and paying the premium online. Also, there is a range of newer innovative products that have been launched. They aim to fulfil the unique needs of individuals and families. For instance, there are disease-specific plans that cater to individuals who need financial protection to manage serious illnesses such as cancer, heart diseases, etc. There are also maternity plans available, which will cover various maternity expenses and protect a family in the hour of need. Further, the choice of getting a customised health plan and features such as lifelong renewability are advantages one cannot miss.
Moreover, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is a body that aims to protect the interests of policyholders and introduces new guidelines. The introduction of Arogya Sanjeevani Policy is a move in this direction and aims to make the process of buying a health policy easy and affordable. It is a standard health insurance policy that will offer a basic health cover of Rs 5 Lakh.
The Road Ahead
In India, the National Insurance Awareness Day 2020 was observed on June 28 and is a step in the right direction.
Health is the real wealth. This fact proves to be right, especially in the present scenario, the world is in after the outbreak of the pandemic. Amidst the recent health crisis the world has seen, the health insurance industry in India has witnessed significant growth. However, many people are not yet open to the idea that buying a health insurance plan is the best financial tool for saving money in the long run. Thus, there is still a lot of growth potential.
It is advisable to go for a health insurance policy as it is a safety net that protects you against expenses beyond hospital bills. This way, you can stay worry-free and focus on a financially secure future. Choose health insurance plans by Care Health Insurance (Formerly Religare Health Insurance) and avail of cashless treatment facility at over 8350+ network hospitals in India.