INTER-STATE DISPARITIES IN HEALTHCARE COSTS, HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE AND FINANCIAL PROTECTION IN INDIA: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF NATIONAL SAMPLE SURVEYS FOR 1986-87, 1995-96, 2004 AND 2014
Keywords:Health Insurance Coverage, Financial Protection, Healthcare Costs
By analysing data from the National Sample Survey for four rounds (1986–87, 1995–96, 2004 and 2014) this research focuses on changes in people's health seeking behaviour, the cost of treatment, and principal factors affecting health insurance premium payments by BPL and APL families. With variations between states, it is discovered that over time, less people sought care from public providers and more people preferred private providers. Despite the fact that both men and women are now more likely to seek treatment for their illnesses, a sizeable portion of the population (more in rural than in urban areas), still refuses treatment because they believe their illness is not serious enough to warrant it. Whilst the cost of healthcare has gone up over time, the difference between public and private costs of treatment has shrunk, possibly as a result of the higher recurring cost in public health facilities and imposing of user fees and cutting on the delivery of free medication. Since the middle of the 2000s, public insurance companies have offered low-cost hospitalisation insurance programmes like the Jan Arogya Bima Policy and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSYB) to help with the healthcare needs of the underprivileged sector of society. According to the insurance premiums, more households that paid premiums in 2004 and 2014 belonged to groups with higher Monthly Per Capita Expenditures (MPCE) and were not economically in the poorest tier. The inter-quintile MPCE differential (between the top and bottom quintile) also reveals significant inter-state disparities in terms of the percentage of households that paid a premium and the percentage of households that had health insurance. The factors that determine whether a family enrols in health insurance imply that increasing enrolment from the poor households got coverage through RSBY. At the national level, BPL/APL households with insurance reported, on average, higher hospitalisation costs than non-insured households, with the difference being significantly higher for urban households. This finding suggests the prevalence of insurance collusion and moral hazard, particularly in the cities from developed states of Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. Further, BPL households, particularly from rural India, have received very little financial relief as a result of the insurance.
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