The Health Ministry after almost a decade released the National Health Accounts (NHA), and according to published document, India’s total healthcare expenditure comes to 4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Raising questions about the already pitiable state of public funding in the sector, this statistics hints at the need for immediate focus. In 2013-14, the data for which was released recently, the Total Healthcare Expenditure (THE) was Rs. 4.5 lakh crores, which totals to 4 per cent of the GDP. The earlier estimates were for the financial year 2004-05.
With a population of 1.21 billion, the government of India’s spending in health sector constitute just 1.15 per cent of GDP. Considering the figure, it has been argued time and again that government rise the spending on health to 2.5 per cent of GDP. Recognising this situation to be problematic, the Draft National Health Policy 2015, according The Hindu stated, “Global evidence on health spending shows that unless a country spends at least 5-6 per cent of its GDP on health and the major part of it is from government expenditure, basic health care needs are seldom met.”
The NHA data states, the low public spending on healthcare, Rs. 3.06 lakh crore came from households. Although there has been a marginal upgrading from 2004-05, when the share of government’s share was just 22 per cent, this figure is still challenging.
However, of the total money that flows in India’s healthcare system, according to the data released by the Ministry, preventive care in the country receives around 9.6 per cent. Adding to this “abysmally low” number, it has also been noted that, Indians spend eight times more on private hospitals than on government ones.
What is alarmingly in this situation is, Indians’ out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure on healthcare has shot up. This means, money individuals pay on their own, instead of being covered by insurance or health benefits. About 73 per cent of contribution in the space of health finance, based on the data, is the money that individual households spend. And this, according to health economist Dr Sakthi Selvaraj, “is a huge concern”. “I cannot think of any other country, except Myanmar, where OOP is this huge,” he informed The Hindu.
While all eyes are on the initiatives the government takes to improve its contribution in the healthcare, member of NITI Aayog, Bibek Debroy, opined on the matter saying, “There is not much point in saying that government expenditure on health should be increased to 2.5 per cent of GDP, unless you also explain where those extra resources will come from.”
Now the question remains, how will the extra resources for healthcare be collected, to crease out the tension of flow of resources in India’s healthcare sector?
Sources: The Hindu