Health Insurance Access in Rural Areas

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The major proportion of the Indian population lives in rural areas and they do not have proper medical facilities because 75% of specialized and better services are located in urban areas. The rise in healthcare demand has increased the cost of the healthcare system to the extent that specialized care is beyond the reach of a common Indian man. Over 25% of hospitalized Indians fall below the poverty line because of hospital expenses. A study carried out by FICCI and Consultancy Company Ernst and Young (E and Y) reports that, over the next 10 years, healthcare spending in India will double.

To cope up with this, health insurance is the better option.

Impact of Health Insurance in Rural Areas
The Planning Commission in 2012 stated that the people below the poverty line in India account for 250 million, of which 200 million people live in the rural areas, it is found that this is due to the increase in their medical expenditures. The majority of our population doesn’t use health insurance schemes mainly because they are unaware of its importance and feel it’s an extra burden.

National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) found out that the main reason for the indebtedness among the poor and the middle-class people is the escalating medical costs. A large proportion of people either avail loans or sell their assets in order to settle the colossal medical expenditures incurred.

How can this be solved? This is where Health Insurances plays its role.

Health insurance can play a crucial role in preventing people from the burden of debts. Insurance can provide them support at the time of emergency and needs.

Issues of Health Insurance in Rural Areas
In a study conducted by J Epidemiol Glob Health of 33 respondents located in 8 villages in southern India, it was found that those who were interested in health insurance policies were willing to pay Rs. 1500 ($27) as the model annual insurance premium.
From, the above study we can conclude that if the premium of the insurance schemes is made feasible, people are willing to opt for such insurance products.

Only 10% of Indians have some form of health insurance, mostly inadequate. This low proportion might be due to the lack of awareness about health insurance.

In a study conducted out in five villages of rural field practice area of a medical college in Pune, Maharashtra. The pre-tested questionnaire was used to collect the information related to awareness, attitude, and practices about health insurance from the head of the family. A total of 70 families were randomly selected for the study. Of these, 46 (65.71%) were joint families and the remaining 24 (34.28) were nuclear families. Only 11 (15.71%) families had heard about health insurance, while 59 (84.29%) had never heard about it. Among those who had heard, the source information was mainly an insurance agent (63.63%). Only 2 (18.18%) had information about government health insurance schemes. After a discussion about the need for health insurance, 60 (85.71%) commented that it is important to have health insurance for the individuals as well as families. The majority had given preference to family health insurance 57 (81.42%); 22 (31.42%) opined that health insurance is a governments responsibility and it should be given to all; and only 6 (8.57%) actually had a health insurance policy.

As the health and development of a country go hand in hand, making these insurance products accessible to the rural areas is the need of the hour. The poor and rural people can take advantage of health insurance which is an expanding field today. They should be not burdened with high premium rather it should feel as a means of protection for them. The policies and features needs to be in a simpler way that they can understand it fully and reap its benefits.

Data Sources (Economic Times, Rural relations, NCBI) | Image Source: The Hindu

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