A new health insurance scheme is set to be approved within the month by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI). This policy, launched by public sector New India Insurance Company Ltd, will focus on providing healthcare to high net-worth individuals. The policy aims to be one of the more broad reaching insurance policies on the market, providing healthcare to the insurance holder’s family with coverage of sums up to 1 crore (10 million rupees).
Despite claims by the company of covering 350 million people there is still the unavoidable issue in India that a potential 76% of the population are not covered by any means of health insurance. This is regardless of 20 central and state sponsored insurance schemes as of 2015.
India in part has a reliance on commercial based health insurance as many utilise private healthcare. While tax funded health insurance policies exist, they are not widespread. The low cost alternatives typically being flawed policies with payouts only in serious, high cost cases. This leads to insurance often only being taken out by those with pre-existing conditions due for these high cost procedures, the response from insurers being to raise premium rates.
Policies such as those put forth by the New India Insurance Company Ltd highlight this issue. As a commercial enterprise there is no profit to be made insuring those unlikely to be able to pay the premium rates, so focus is shifted to competition to insure middle class clients where a profit is possible. This has led a large portion of the population to simply avoid taking out insurance.
Even in the case of insurance policies offered by the central government, premium rates may simply be too high for many. In 2010 it was shown that 42% of beneficiaries suffered out of pocket expenses even under the government insurance policies. With no guarantee that the many procedures are covered it is understandable why many would opt not to take out insurance.
This situation however may see improvement in the foreseeable future. The state government of Andhra Pradesh has announced that, in cooperation with the Gates Foundation and World Health Organization (WHO) the state plans to provide a new, affordable family health insurance scheme beginning at the start of next year. At Rs 100 per head this may help to alleviate the issue of healthcare being aimed primarily towards the wealthy.
The scheme is receiving a large degree of both foreign and state investment and so in the near future if this scheme produces positive results it may provide the evidence needed for the scheme to be extended possibly to other states.