Regulating India’s regressive health insurance

Three quarters of India’s population has no health insurance. Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda said in May 2016, that only about 24 per cent of the population has some form of medical insurance. That includes private and public sector insurance, and the Central scheme for weaker sections, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.

Beneficiaries stand in queue to register for the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister's Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme in Chennai. File photo

In 2015, there were 20 Central and State-sponsored insurance schemes in operation and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India estimates that 28.8 crore individuals were insured as of 2014-15.

India primarily relies on commercial health insurance now.

Rather than pool financial resources across social groupings for risk protection, and move towards tax-funded health care, government policy has created fragments with low insurance. Can the base of these pools be widened and merged to mitigate classic insurance failures?