South India beats north in health insurance

Three of top five states with highest coverage are from south India

NEW DELHI: Southern states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, it seems, are more conscious about health. The government’s recent National Family Health Survey has found a huge gap between the southern and northern parts of the country in health insurance coverage.

It’s highest among states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana while Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam are among states with very poor health insurance coverage. Andhra tops the list as 75 per cent families in the state are covered under health insurance while in Lakshadweep, Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir, less than 5 per cent families have health cover.

It also highlighted many health related issues where further improvement is required.
The survey said that in the 15-49 age bracket, only 20 per cent women and 23 per cent men are covered by health insurance.

The survey highlighted the poor condition of public healthcare system and revealed that people generally prefer private hospitals when family members fall ill. It said that while 51 per cent people preferred private healthcare, 45 per cent went for treatment at government and municipal hospitals.

As per the survey, the private sector is the primary source of healthcare in urban areas — 56 per cent. Even in rural areas, it was as high as 49 per cent. The public sector is the main source of healthcare for 42 per cent households in urban areas and 46 per cent in rural areas.

The use of government health facilities is highest in Uttar Pradesh (80%) and Bihar (78%) and lowest in Tripura (9%), the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (3%), and Lakshadweep (less than 1%).
The most commonly reported reason for not using government health facilities at the national level is the poor quality of care. The second most commonly reported reason is that no government facility is nearby, followed by the long waiting time at government facilities.

The survey asked women in the 15-49 age group about potential problems in obtaining medical treatment. About two-thirds (67%) of women reported at least one problem. While 25 per cent said money as a problem, 30 per cent cited distance to a health facility and 27 per cent cited transport.

Thirty-seven per cent of women also reported concerns that no female health provider was available. Forty-five percent of women said no provider was available and 46 per cent cited non-availability of drugs.
The survey said half of those with insurance are covered by a state health insurance scheme and over one-third by Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.

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The New Indian Express