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SPECIAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 271-279

Mitigating India's health woes: Can health insurance be a remedy to achieve universal health coverage?


1 School of Management, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India
2 National Institute of Bank Management, Pune, Maharashtra, India
3 School of Management, National Institute of Technology Karnataka, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
B Savitha
School of Management, Manipal University, Manipal - 576 104, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2321-4848.196186

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A low level of public investments in preventive health facilities and medical care facilities and health professionals has given rise to poor health status for an average Indian. Insufficient government funding for health care, inadequate and ineffective health financing mechanisms, poor delivery of health care, especially in public facilities, and excessive reliance on unregulated high-cost private providers have contributed to the poor accomplishment of Millennium Development Goals, especially in the informal sector. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) consider health to be one of the important objectives to be achieved by all the nations in the world. This paper reappraises the current status, unmet needs, challenges, and the way forward to implement and achieve universal health coverage (UHC) in India by thrusting the focus on three elements (pillars) of universal access to health services. Despite seven decades of independence, India does still face the formidable challenge of providing health services to its population at an affordable cost. One of the major obstacles in reaching universal coverage and universal health entitlement of every Indian citizen has been the absence of effective health financing mechanism that promotes affordable access to weaker and vulnerable sections of the society. In this respect, health insurance certainly does have the potential to expedite the process of UHC if various stakeholders work in cohesion under the government stewardship. In rural India, the health infrastructure and workforce are inadequate to serve the unserved and underserved population. Hence, the government should invest in public health facilities while promoting pan-India health insurance to ensure and guarantee easy access and affordability for its citizens. The way forward should not only be centered on financial protection, but also to have renewed emphasis on restructuring the health-care system, ensuring the adequate availability of infrastructure, skilled workforce, and access to affordable drugs and technologies. Integration and strengthening of different health financing and delivery mechanisms would undoubtedly enable us to achieve the Alma-Ata declaration of “health for all” and the ambitious target United Nations SDGs of “UHC” by 2025 in India's “Bharat” and “modern” India.


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