The myth of ‘Affordable Care’ in India

Healthcare is one service that the rich and poor need alike, but there is an astonishing difference between the qualities of healthcare the two sections of society receive based on their ability to pay.  There is also a great discrepancy in the coverage and quality of healthcare between rural and urban areas as well as between public and private health care. (India spent little over 1% of its GDP in budget year 2016-17 on public health expenditure in comparison to world average of 6 %.)[1]

India having Approx 9.3 Lakh doctors still lags behind in providing healthcare for all with a doctor-to-population ratio of 1:1674 and has around 0.9 hospital beds per 1000 people[2] [3]. Only about 20% of doctors are in rural areas – where 70% of the population lives with limited access to hospitals and clinics, due to which people have to travel great distances for checkups.[4] This poor quality of care in the public sector is due to lack of infrastructure / doctors and support staff that lack the intention of providing better treatment.

The inadequacy of the public health care system in India indicates that many turn to private healthcare providers, although this is an option generally inaccessible to the poor. A large majority have no access to health insurance, therefore most healthcare expenses are paid out of pocket and they continue to expend income, savings, and assets, in attempting to restore well-being, on account of the vicious circle of demanding informal health providers, unqualified practitioners, and unaffordable health services. This has led many households to incur huge expenditure that threatens a household’s capacity to maintain a basic standard of living.

A large part of economically weaker section go to untrained /informal medical practioners providing health care facilities – Local Quacks/Bengali doctors/ Jhola Jhap doctors- for inexpensive and quick treatment. Local treatment has ruinous effects on the body in the long run.  A lot of people who don’t receive appropriate and timely primary healthcare then have to spend time and money on secondary and tertiary treatments. Consequently 45% of hospital beds are held by primary patients.

There is persisting problem of affordability of healthcare by the general population. For India to achieve a considerable standard in healthcare, it has to start at the core level with improving quality of primary healthcare services and making it affordable, so as to reduce dependency on untrained doctors. A developed primary healthcare would reduce need for rather expensive secondary and tertiary healthcare reduces. Moreover through digitization of services by providing modern facilities and primary screening devices which accurately diagnose diseases, infections and other complexities can up the level of primary healthcare in India.

How do you think India can further improve its primary healthcare sector? Let us know your views in the comment section below.


About the author


Nikhil Nanda is a graduate with his major in economics. He write blogs about various economic and financial affairs happening in the world. He believes in changing the healthcare scenario of the world, through working with companies and startups that can provide affordable and quality healthcare to all and those which can bring about a change in this sector through innovation. He wants people to know the scenario that persists through spreading his words.







Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Management Thinker, Marketer, Healthcare Professional Communicator and Ideation exponent

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Rama Venugopal

    Primary healthcare is a failure across the globe. most of the primary healthcare clinics operate from rural pockets….and globally healthcare industry has failed to attract drs to set up rural Practice….no one seems to be interested…everyone is jostling with each other to get into the overcrowded urban healthcare landscape…this is one of the fundamental reasons why Govts are changing the equations by hiring AYUSH practitioners to treat from PHCs….standard protocols are defined for these practitioners…we need to wait and see if this route will be effective….if proven effective, it can be replicated all over

    1. admin

      Dear Rama

      I think you make an excellent point and the number support your point on view. Would you have more information on this new approach of leveraging Ayush practitioners at PHCs ? We would love to publish a post on the same. Do let us know.

  2. Madhvi

    It is really very serious thing. We pay all our taxes even some of us donate their earning to some NGO and still not getting the basic necessity as health care services are at its worst in India. And our leaders claim we are developing country. where is the development?

  3. Raghav Trivedi

    This is a great article on astonishing myth, Our country developing in sense of religion practice but not in health and help to the people, who are under poverty line.

    1. admin

      I mean I understand your frustration, but then good health does not win you votes in an election 🙂

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