Study indicates healthcare expenditure pushing Indians below poverty line
According to the outcomes from a study conducted by three experts at the Public Health Foundation of India, it is observed that approximately 55 million Indians dived into poverty every year due to the requirements of healthcare funding while almost 38 million of them subjected to levels below the poverty line owing to expenditure on medications solely.
The findings of the study further emphasized on the major contribution of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer to the household expenditures on healthcare. It also concluded that cancer was the most detrimental non-communicable disease responsible for causing catastrophic healthcare expenditures for families. Healthcare expenditure is accounted as catastrophic if it is responsible for a 10% share of the overall expenditure for household consumption. Catastrophic expenditure levels were found to be higher especially for the poorest implying the average hospital stay exceeding seven days.
The authors of the study analyzed the data obtained from the ‘Social Consumption: Health’ survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization in 2014 and information collected from surveys on nationwide consumer expenditure for a period of two decades from 1993-94 to 2011-12. Some of the notable authors of the study include noted health economists Habib Hasan Farooqui and Sakthivel Selvaraj. Referring to the data collected till the period of 2011-12, the study also informs about the initiatives taken by the organization for reduction of the burden of expenses on medication and healthcare for households.
The study further emphasized that hospitalization based treatment is accountable for only a third of the morbidity burden of India which is covered by majority of health insurance schemes launched by the government. Another notable factor observed in the study is the limited incentives for patients seeking public healthcare with the drastic decline in free drugs for inpatients and outpatients in the government health system. The study also referred to the government’s commitment to facilitate affordable medication through Jan Ausadhi stores that has been fulfilled through establishment of the target 3000 stores. However, the issues of quality and frequent lack of stock have to be considered as a notable discrepancy in this context.