India’s health insurance segment contributed 0.34 percentage point out of the overall 1 percentage point of general insurance (including health insurance) penetration in the country during FY22, Lok Sabha was informed on Monday.

During FY22, the number of persons covered under health Insurance stood at 52.04 crore, said Minister of State for Finance Bhagwat Karad in a written reply to a Lok Sabha question. 

The Minister said insurance regulator IRDAI has informed the government that it has adopted a multi-pronged approach using print and electronic media to enhance consumer awareness on various aspects of insurance, including health insurance on a pan-India basis, encouraging all stakeholders to promote insurance awareness among the public. 

Despite these efforts, the outcome on health insurance penetration in the country continues to be low, say experts.

Bhabatosh Mishra, Director Underwriting, Products and Claims at Niva Bupa Health Insurance, said health insurance penetration in India is “extremely low” due to limited reach, and a lack of awareness and education. 

“The poor state of the healthcare system and lack of awareness about health insurance plans in low lying areas force people to spend heavily on healthcare. A significantly high percentage of Indians pay for medical services from their pocket. Neither they are covered by any government or private health insurance scheme. 

“Therefore, we aim to democratise health insurance so that we can contribute to increasing the health insurance penetration in India,” Mishra told businessline.

Mishra highlighted that the GDP of a country is dependent on how healthy its population is. 

“A healthy individual can contribute positively towards nation’s growth. The growing medical inflation and increasing cost of healthcare should prompt people to buy health insurance to secure their health or else it will lead to a medical debt”, he said.

Health insurance improves access to quality healthcare services. “With most of the modern treatments becoming available in India, it’s a matter of affordability that decides whether the best healthcare is availed or not. Some of the treatments being very expensive, health insurance becomes a potent tool to ensure that one can afford best treatment possible,” Mishra added.