Access To Healthcare In India: India A Privatized Health Economy

Published on: 2018/05/29

Vivek Seigell,  Principal Director, PHD Chamber of Commerce, India


Rapid technological advances, well-informed patients, fierce competition among healthcare providers and the dramatic increase in average life expectancy is ushering in a new era in healthcare.

The Indian pharmaceuticals market is the third largest in terms of volume and Fourteenth largest in terms of value in the world. The country’s pharmaceutical industry expanded at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.4 percent in 2013 to reach around US$ 30 billion in 2015 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 23.9 percent to US$ 55 billion by 2020.

Interest Category

Access to healthcare in India, The Indian healthcare industry, The Indian pharmaceuticals market

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Access to healthcare in India

The health care system in India is vast. But the disparity between rural and urban areas as well as between public and private healthcare is glaring. The access to health care in India has major contrast in spite of major advances.

Despite this, India is a popular destination for medical tourism. Medical tourism in India is booming due to the relatively low costs and high quality of its private hospitals.  There are approximately 35,416 government hospitals in India. The data for the total number of private hospitals is currently unavailable.

Is healthcare free in India?

Considering the population and demand for healthcare, one may wonder if healthcare is free in India. In India, private healthcare plays a major role in the development of facilities and is the prime reason why medical tourism is growing in the country. Unlike other nations, medical insurance is yet to become as popular as life insurance. Most of the patients end up paying medical expenses out of their pockets.

Indian healthcare system – An overview

Lack of medical insurance makes affordable treatment a distant dream for the majority of Indians. In spite of the development of the healthcare sector in India, only 17% of the people in India have health insurance. In times of need, people are forced to pay all the expense from their savings, which acts as a huge threat to the basic standard of living for most individuals.

About 70% of the urban population and 60% of the rural population depend on the private sector for healthcare. Even with health insurance, the medication and consultation charges are paid by the individual, which makes it unappealing to the poor.

Indian healthcare industry – Access to healthcare in India

The Indian healthcare sector is booming owing to the rising levels of income, more health awareness, increased in the number of lifestyle diseases, and better insurance options. With the development of the healthcare sector in India, it is expected that 40 million will be created in the coming years. The increase in the number of primary health centers and sub-centers over the last few years have been very encouraging.

The private sector in India accounts for about 74% of the total expenditure. There has been an increase in public-private partnerships, which has helped people in rural and semi-urban areas.

Problems in the healthcare system

The most common problems in the Indian healthcare system are:

  1.       Not enough government expenditure on healthcare
  2.       Social disparity causing the urban and rural divide
  3.       Lack of beds and specialist doctors in rural areas
  4.       High expenses incurred due to lack of health insurance
  5.       Use of home remedies instead of proper medical attention
  6.       Lack of equipment and machines to diagnose illness
  7.       Not following up on the treatment of diseases

The major players in the healthcare industry in India today are listed below:

  1.    Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Ltd
  2.    Apollo Munich Health Insurance Co Ltd
  3.    Cipla Ltd
  4.    Dr Reddys Laboratories Ltd
  5.    Fortis Healthcare Ltd,
  6.    Lupin Ltd
  7.    Piramal Enterprises Ltd
  8.    Religare Health Insurance Company Ltd
  9.    Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd
  10.  Wockhardt Ltd

Read more – Why is India considered to be a privatized health economy? Discusses Dr. Vivek Sigell