Beyond out-of-pocket payments: Measures to expanding access to health financing in India
Expanding access to health financing in India requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond traditional out-of-pocket payments.
Access to affordable and quality healthcare is a fundamental human right, yet many individuals and communities around the world, especially in developing countries like India, face significant barriers to obtaining essential medical services.
One key challenge is the lack of awareness and availability of affordable health financing options. This leads to out-of-pocket payments, which often can cause financial hardship and limit access to care for those who cannot afford it. Policymakers and healthcare providers are now on the hunt for options to help reduce out-of-the-pocket payments.
Advancing digital health resources
The use of healthtech platforms via web or mobile applications has increased lately. These platforms often offer the facility of telemedicine, which is a game changer for reducing the stress on out-of-pocket payments.
Using telemedicine, healthtech platforms can connect patients with doctors, enabling remote consultations, diagnoses, and prescription services. This not only reduces the need for physical travel but also facilitates timely access to healthcare, leading to early intervention and better health outcomes. These platforms can also play a transformative role in the collection and management of health financing funds, making the process more efficient, accessible, and transparent.
By harnessing the power of data analytics, healthtech platforms can also tailor health financing plans to the specific needs of individuals and communities, ensuring that they receive the right financing options at affordable rates. Additionally, these platforms can facilitate the enrollment process, enable easy premium payments through digital wallets or mobile banking, and provide convenient access to healthcare services.
The role of Government subsidies
Governments play a crucial role in expanding access to health financing by providing subsidies and targeted assistance to vulnerable populations. By allocating resources to those who need it the most, governments can ensure that essential healthcare services are accessible to low-income individuals, marginalized communities, and other disadvantaged groups. This approach reduces financial burden and enables those who are economically disadvantaged to receive the care they need without incurring significant financial burdens.
For instance, the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission is a government-sponsored health insurance program that provides coverage for over 500 million vulnerable individuals in India, reducing their financial burden for hospitalization expenses. Additionally, through schemes like the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY), the government provides insurance coverage, ensuring access to essential healthcare services. These programs significantly reduce out-of-pocket expenses and improve financial protection for those in need.
However, as much as governments try to improve health financing with these schemes, it is equally important to spread awareness and make the process of availing benefits simple so that a large number of individuals can leverage it.
Lastly, governments can also partner with international organizations to expand access to health financing, particularly in underdeveloped and developing countries. Collaborative efforts between governments, non-governmental organizations, and international institutions can provide financial resources, technical expertise, and capacity-building support to strengthen healthcare systems and improve access to quality services.
Promoting community-Based Health Financing
Community-based health financing mechanisms involve pooling resources at the local level to finance healthcare services. These approaches can take various forms, such as community health insurance schemes, mutual health organizations, or health savings groups. By harnessing the power of collective action, community-based financing enables individuals to share the financial risks associated with healthcare, making it more accessible and affordable.
Examples of successful community-based health financing initiatives include the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) Health Insurance Scheme and the Yeshasvini Health Insurance Scheme in Karnataka. These programs provide health insurance coverage for informal sector workers and farmers, ensuring their access to quality healthcare services at affordable rates. These schemes often promote community participation and ownership, fostering a sense of solidarity and empowering individuals to take charge of their health.
By leveraging the power of collective action, community-based financing enables individuals to share the financial risks associated with healthcare, making it more accessible and affordable.
Expanding access to health financing in India requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond traditional out-of-pocket payments. As India progresses towards universal health coverage, it is crucial for policymakers, healthcare providers, and stakeholders to prioritize the development and implementation of these measures to ensure that every individual can access the healthcare they need.
Aniruddha Sen is a Co-Founder at Kenko Health.
Edited by Akanksha Sarma
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)