40 Crore Indians Devoid Of Financial Cover For Healthcare: NITI Aayog Report

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40 Crore Indians Devoid Of Financial Cover For Healthcare: NITI Aayog Report

The report titled 'Health Insurance for India's Missing Middle' was published by the NITI Aayog recently that spoke about the scope of Health Insurance in the country, looking at the efficacy of Ayushman Bharat scheme launched by the government.

A report published by the NITI Aayog suggests that around 40 crore Indians do not have any health insurance. This makes about 30% of the country's population that is devoid of any kind of financial cushion for these expenditures. It is an alarming development, despite the central government expanding the reach of its Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY), that aims to cover beneficiaries coming in from the deprived sectors of the society.

'India's Missing Middle'

The report is titled 'Health Insurance for India's Missing Middle.' The Ayushman Bharat scheme covers 50 percent of the population, whereas 20 percent of the population is covered either by social health insurance or private voluntary health insurance. "The remaining 30% of the population is devoid of health insurance; the actual uncovered population is higher due to existing coverage gaps in PMJAY and overlap between schemes," said the report.

Further, it goes on to define who comprises the country's 'missing middle.' It says, "The missing middle is not a monolith- it contains multiple groups across all expenditure quintiles, in both urban and rural areas, though they are concentrated in the top two quintiles of rural areas and top three quintiles of urban areas." Most of them who fall in this group are self-employed and have formal or informal jobs in the agriculture sector or others.

This group misses out on the health insurance benefits for several reasons. Private voluntary health insurance is not something they can afford as it is specifically designed to cater to high-income groups. When it comes to subsidized insurance by the government, they are not eligible as these are not available to the general public and only to a fraction of the population.

Low-Cost Health Insurance

Apart from the critique, the study has also gone on to give some solutions as well. The Niti Aayog asks for a low-cost insurance alternative that can be used by the 'Missing Middle' group, by improving upon the 'Arogya Sanjeevani' plan that was launched in April 2020. "Arogya Sanjeevani has laid down the foundation for a standardized health insurance product; it offers a basic benefits package which is common across insurers," it added.

However, this is only possible if the Premium costs are reduced considerably, along with that of the treatment delay period. The report said, "The modified product should, firstly, have lower delays and cover all diseases/ treatments at the earliest, to increase its attractiveness. Second, it should offer out-patient benefits to demonstrate greater value to customers and help in delivering better outcomes."

Along with this, it also suggested expanding the reach of private health insurance and modifying its costs as well. Not only that but the government is also asked to raise consumer awareness about these plans so that more people could avail these services and do not remain in the dark about them.

Also Read: What Does Your Typical Health Insurance Policy Cover? Can You Customize It?

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Writer : Akanksha Saxena
Editor : Snehadri Sarkar
Creatives : Akanksha Saxena

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