Skip to main content

High medical costs pushed 38 million Indians into poverty, led to financial catastrophe of 18% households

By Rajiv Shah
A recent paper, published in a top London-based research journal, BMP Open, has said that the out of pocket (OOP) expenditure on healthcare in general and medicines in particular, over the last two decades, has gone up from 4.49% to 6.77% in India, leading to “financial catastrophe” of 18% of the country’s households.
Calling it a “significant increase since 1993–1994”, the paper, “Quantifying the financial burden of households’ out-of-pocket payments on medicines in India”, by Sakthivel Selvaraj, Habib Hasan Farooqui and Anup Karan, says that, as against this, the proportion of OOP expenditure on food and non-food items has remained more or less stagnant.
The paper further says that OOP on medical expenditure was particularly “catastrophic” for the poorer 10% of the population, pushing 3.09% or 38 million persons, into poverty. “Among the leading cause of diseases that caused significant OOP payments are cancers, injuries, cardiovascular diseases, genitourinary conditions and mental disorders”, the report adds.
At the same time, the paper says, "The number of households facing catastrophe" on account of medical expenditure "is approximately 46 millions", of which 29 million households incurred catastrophe on account of OOP payments on medicines alone."
Of the 18% of Indian households that “appear to suffer financial catastrophe” as a result of OOP spending, the paper underlines, of this, “medicines’ OOP expenditure alone contributed an estimated 11%.”
The paper further states, “Recent evidence from the National Health Accounts for India points out that during 2013–2014, an estimated INR1331 per capita was spent on medicines, while households alone contributed INR1200 per capita, accounting for 90% of all medicines expenditure in the country.”
On the other hand, the paper says, evidence about government expenditure on medicines in India shows that, on an average, government spent about 10% of health expenditure on medicines. However, the national average masks significant under-spending on medicines by several state governments, “with many reportedly spending less than 5% of their health budgets.
Pointing out that the supply of free drugs in government health system in the outpatient care setting has “declined sharply” from about 18% to 5%, the paper says, “Drugs prescribed during hospitalisation for free also declined significantly from one-third.”
Basing on secondary data of the nationwide Consumer Expenditure Surveys for the years 1993–1994, 2004–2005 and 2011–2012, carried out by the Government of India’s National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), and NSSO’s “Health and Morbidity Survey”, 2014, the paper says, “Over three-fourth of all healthcare payments are paid out of pocket (OOP) at the point of service delivery while medicines purchase.”
According to the paper, “Over 80% of populations are reportedly spending OOP while seeking treatment”, adding, two decades earlier, the “proportion of population reporting any OOP payments” was “about 60%”. It adds, “In respect to medicines spending, approximately every OOP spending is associated with expenditure on medicines.”
“If we were to net out food expenditure from total household consumption spending, which are considered a necessity, the share of health spending remained stagnant but as high as 11%–12% during the period under consideration”, the report notes.

Comments

Urvashi Devi said…
Why ? Now they have the generic medicines, free dialysis; 5 lacs insurance ; and they also get cover with banking schemes; that I know because we did it for all our staff; reduced price of Valves ; knee operations etc etc ; free treatment for ST Sc health card holders . So I don't understand ?
Ashwin Desai said…
You are absolutely right, God knows when will government make serious & strict policy?

TRENDING

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Mayawati's 'success' depends on how BSP taps new crop of young Amdekarite leaders

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Whatever be the election results in Uttar Pradesh on March 10, it is extremely important to understand: that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its leader Mayawati have the potential to rise like a Phoenix any time.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

India's actual Covid death rate about 2500 per million, third highest in world: Study

By Rajiv Shah  There is now well-researched proof, if it can be called that, indicating that the Government of India may have fudged data to show lower Covid death rate. A new paper, published in “Science”, has said that while officially the Government of India’s Covid-related death estimates as of January 1, 2022 – 345 per million population – are one-seventh of the US death rate, the actual analysis of crude death rate in India suggests, this may be a gross underestimation. 

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

Haridwar call for genocide direct result of Modi 'tolerating' Islamophobic policies

By Our Representative  A high-level briefing organised in Washington DC, in which as many as 17 human rights and interfaith organizations -- including Amnesty International USA, Genocide Watch and Hindus for Human Rights, apart from several persons in their individual capacity -- participated, has come down heavily on what they called "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for a genocide of Muslims."