The Indian economy is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It's gaining momentum and popularity amidst competitors, through varied initiatives and plans incorporated by the Indian government. Throwing light on this matter, Chua Han Teng, Asia analyst at BMI Research, said, "We believe that the Indian economy will remain a growth out-performer in Asia in 2016. Macroeconomic prospects are brighter under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration due to an improvement in the business environment."
Further, asserting the bright future of the Indian economy. Last year addressing a group of Indian businessmen in Dubai, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said: "Despite adverse global circumstances, India is still managing to keep ahead. We have our agenda full in terms of reforms and investment into key areas," he said adding that the government has opened up more sectors for investment. He also laid emphasis on the fact that an interesting change is taking place in India with the expansion of aspirational class. "We are in a situation which is opposite to many parts of the world. We have a surplus human resource which is creating huge Indian diaspora around the world. In the next 20 years, the spread of people of Indian- origin is going to hugely increase around the world."
However, despite top leaders media-educating us about the growth and future prospects of the Indian economy, there are certain roadblocks that cannot be ignored and are evidently acting as a deterrent in churning and extracting more out of this young, vibrant and a natural resource rich country.
The government needs to work towards curbing high inflation, wide fiscal deficits, reforms in the agriculture sector, skill upgradation of the labour market, land clearances for infrastructure projects and job creation for one of the world's youngest work forces. To add to this, it also needs to work towards improving the health sector and the related aspects of this sector.
The current state of health insurance
Ironically, whereon one hand India's medical tourism is booming, large number of multispecialty hospitals are coming up, the health insurance still remains untapped, and underrepresented, particularly in the rural sectors. Despite liberalization of the insurance sector, only around 21.6 crore people less than one-fifth of India's population are covered under health insurance. Even among those who have some form of coverage, 67 percent are covered by public insurance companies, according to National Health Profile 2015, compiled by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence. Moreover, almost 70 per cent of their health expenses are borne by individuals, placing considerable financial burden on poor households, often pushing them deeper into poverty and debt obligations.
India being a pivotal part of the world economy, slowdowns and recessions in other countries can have a negative impact on its economy and in such times, health insurance acts as a vital armor in protecting individuals in those troubled times. With increase in medical care cost, new-aged diseases, the Indian population since the last decade or sohas got cognizant in accepting health insurance as an alternative mechanism for financing health care.
Nonetheless, as health insurance is still in a nascent stage, let's understand the 5 glaring factssurrounding health insurance policies in a weak economy.
It has often been seen that policy holders are unaware about the policy details and end up purchasing policy that could have been avoided. Policies are mostly purchased after a critical ailment or hospitalization was done, without much though given to the monetary or the finer aspects of it. With the rise in the medical care, it is very important that the policy holder deeply understands the policy before buying one. Also, the insurance company should keep the mode of communication clear and open. If you want to buy a policy, health insurance companies in India like HDFC ERGO provides good transparent policies for its customers.
Lack of service innovation
There's a likelihood of biases when it comes to the insurance sector. By and large, people still have their guards up due to the slack in the service industry. Long waiting period, lower efficiency can be leveraged through the use of technology. Usage of electronic medical records, mobile applications and other significant changes can surely narrow the gap and enhance the customer experience.
Penetration of health insurance
The penetration level of health insurance is still at a very minimal stage in the ecosystem of health care. There's a wide disparity between the urban and the rural population. While the urban population is becoming aware about the importance of health insurance, rural population still lacks the basic healthcare delivery and financing. Also, inadequate social detrimentals of health such as sanitation, food security, water and other potent factors act as an obstacle.
Third party administrators (TAT)
The turnaround time for the payment of an insured patient's treatment in an affiliated hospital is 20 days for cashless treatment. Due to logistics involved in managing large number of hospitals and claims, TPAs fail to meet the deadline even if the insurance company has made the payment. While some TPA's don't work on Saturdays, most insurance company does. This again creates disparity and delay in the process format of the claims. Many insurance companies have now initiated the process of direct dealing with the insured which indirectly lowers the congestion.
Sales centric approach
To meet targets and get lucrative bonus, salesmen often misguide the customer and sell dubious policies. People end up buying, wrong policies basis the judgment of the company representative. Insurance company's policies and documents should be read carefully and also IRDA intervention in making insurance policy brochures more transparent will facilitate the process.
Lack of focus on Women health
Women forms an integral part of our society. Since centuries, women have contributed via donning unique and meaningful hats. But, sadly large number of women population in India is still oblivious to the concept of health insurance. Lack of awareness coupled with hectic lifestyles, no motivation towards self-care, and dependency on family members has left them hapless and vulnerable enough to get trapped in the vicious circle of deadly disease such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, maternity complications, cardiovascular disorders and more. As per the IRDA Insurance Awareness Survey Report, 2012, Diabetes, hypertension, stroke, polycystic ovarian, female sexual arousal disorder, cardiovascular and thyroid diseases are on the rise in women but there are merely 39% of total women who opt for the health policy. The scope and need for introduction of various schemes and bills pertaining to women health care remains on an all-time high.
Make in India being the signature campaign of the Modi government, expectations are high that efforts will be made towards enhancing the manufacturing industry as well as access to lucrative jobs offers. With focus on health sector in this year's budget let's wait and watch if this could be the kick start in the long journey towards making health care sector the best amongst its competitors.