Mr. Antony Jacob's Interview in NDTV

A Three-Pillar Structure for Public-Funded Healthcare will Work

Healthcare in India is widely recognised as a state responsibility and hence its demand, supply and delivery mechanism cannot be left to the forces of market economics alone. Nor can it be restricted to the care facilitated through public expenditure.

The healthcare spend in India is expected to double (and touch 2,250 billion) by 2014. A widespread lack of health insurance compounds the healthcare challenges faced by India. Barely 12-13% of the population has some form of health insurance cover in addition to the 10% who get covered through some form of government schemes. What then makes for a just healthcare system? I believe, India should work towards a three-pillar structure where the state can help make healthcare accessible to the population below the poverty line through free or almost free healthcare cover schemes such as RSBY, etc.

For the share of population who are covered by schemes like CGHS, ESI, etc., the state should work more as a facilitator for better business environment and ensure the healthcare delivery mechanism is adequately incentivised and disincentivised.

As the third pillar, private health insurance, should play the critical role to support in financing the growing health insurance needs of the rapidly evolving Indian middle class. Health insurance is poised to play the critical role of financing medical innovation and technology and make them readily available within India. This should leave a strong rub off effect for the government run schemes through utilisation of the existing healthcare bandwidth.

India is standing at a crossroad where the need for healthcare is growing every minute. The recently promulgated reforms of the US healthcare system have an early warning for us in India. By taking proactive measures now, the Indian government can avoid the inevitable situation and steps adopted by the US government. Hence a more effective private-public partnership built on trust and transparency would facilitate universal healthcare access while enhancing our readiness to address the growing gap of healthcare demand and supply.

(The writer Antony Jacob, Chief Executive Officer of Apollo Munich Health Insurance)

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