A country’s health not only reflects the well-being of its population but also influences its economic success. After all, a country’s GDP is determined by the health of its inhabitants. As a result, guaranteeing health coverage for all citizens is of paramount importance.
To achieve the milestones of affordability, accessibility and availability towards a future-fit India, we must encourage stakeholders to come together in partnership. Rising medical inflation and increasing cost of healthcare indicate that insurers need to reassess and revise their premiums periodically to keep pace with it.
Another option is to consider lowering the 18 per cent GST levied on health insurance premiums. This high tax rate escalates the cost of in-patient care and poses a serious impediment to incorporating outpatient products into health insurance, which accounts for 50-60 per cent of healthcare expenditure. This creates a mismatch in availing healthcare services through insurance funding. Simultaneously, it is imperative for the government, healthcare providers and health insurance players to dialogue through collaborative forums. This can facilitate discussions on past experiences, effective execution strategies, build flexibility for sustained partnerships and establish central agencies for evaluating Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models and monitoring impact.
Be it public or private, insurers play a vital role in administering such schemes, while the government takes on the role of payer and regulator. In an insurance or hybrid model, government can limit its financial liability, reduce managerial costs, enhance scheme monitoring and benefit from the insurance players who have experience in dealing with hospitals and developing robust systems to mitigate fraud.
Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, etc, can also facilitate a holistic digital health ecosystem to increase equitable access to health services, improve health outcomes and reduce costs.
Healthcare for all is not a solitary responsibility, but a shared endeavour that requires cooperation from governments, healthcare providers, individuals and communities. Governments should create and maintain healthcare systems that are accessible, affordable and of high quality. And individuals and communities should support one another towards a healthier society.
Healthcare as a human right forms the moral and ethical foundation for this shared responsibility. Universal access to healthcare should not be seen as an unattainable ideal, but an achievable goal that benefits everyone.
(The writer is Managing Director & CEO, Niva Bupa Health Insurance. Views are personal.)