Free Health Care
India’s constitution guarantees free healthcare for all its citizens. It’s quite obvious that all government hospitals are required to provide free of cost healthcare facilities to the patients. According to World Bank, Indian government spent just 1.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product on health care in 2014, little changed as a proportion of the economy in 20 years. However, China, by contrast, spent 3.1 percent of its G.D.P. on health care in 2014; the United States spent 8.3 percent in the same year.
The irony is that private healthcare sector is responsible for the majority of healthcare in India and most of the skyrocketing healthcare expenses are paid out of pocket by patients and their families, rather than through insurance. Although government-run hospitals are theoretically free for everyone, the waits are long, quality is poor and corruption is endemic. India is plagued by increasing levels of water and air pollution, some of it is worsened by the current government’s pro-business policies. Malnutrition, poor sanitation and lack of proper housing remain the major problems.
Most of the public healthcare caters to the rural areas, and the poor quality arises from the reluctance of experienced healthcare providers to visit the rural areas. Consequently, the majority of the public healthcare system catering to the rural and remote areas relies on inexperienced and unmotivated interns who are mandated to spend time in public healthcare clinics as part of their curricular requirement. Other major reasons are a distance from the public sector facility, long wait times, and inconvenient hours of operation. Even the Private health insurance schemes, which constitute the bulk of insurance schemes, availed by the population, do not cover costs of consultation or medication, other than hospitalization and associated expenses are covered.
The Free Health Care program could easily cost billions of dollars per year and it’s high time for Government to earmark a percentage of GDP. It is a fundamental right for each and every honest taxpaying citizen to avail medical facilities free of cost Irrespective of whether it’s a Govt. Hospital or Private run hospital, without being dependent on personal savings or insurance.