ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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NSSO: Health Cover Still Poor

The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) Social Consumption: Health Survey conducted during January–June 2014, in its 71st round, and released on 30 June 2015, reveals that 86% of the rural population and 82% of the urban population in India were not covered under any scheme for health expenditure support. The proportion of ailing persons (PAP) in total population was reported to be 8.9% in rural areas and 11.8% in urban areas. Age-wise PAP is 10.3% among children aged below four years. It is the lowest among the 10 to 30 year age group, but thereafter it increases with age, and is the highest for those aged 70 years and above at 30.6%. While conducting a survey of small dairy loan defaulters in five districts of Punjab in early June 2015, it was found that 30% of the respondents reported expenditure on illness in the family as the main reason for stopping repayment of bank loans. Most of them were not covered by any health expenditure scheme.

The circumstances of these dairying households are corroborated by the NSSO health survey, which finds that health expenditure schemes covered only 19% of households in the top monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) quintile. In the lower quintile (20% and below), only 11% were covered. In the lowest quintile (below 10%), 10% were covered by government-funded insurance schemes and 1% by employers (other than government) and none of the households arranged their expenditure from insurance companies. About 66% of households in the bottom quintile of MPCE met medical expenses from their own savings, 5% arranged the same from friends/relatives, 28% borrowed or sold their assets, and less than 1% relied on other sources, including protection schemes.

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