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With no Health Insurance, Most Indians ‘Burn up their savings to pay medical bills’

A whopping 62 per cent of Indians paid from their own pockets for their medical expenses in 2016, an annual study by global health services company Cigna showed.

The study, 2017 Cigna 360° Well-being Score – India Report, unveiled by Cigna TTK Health Insurance, revealed that Indians primarily depend on their own savings when it comes to funding health emergencies, and also underscored the low penetration of health insurance in the country.

While 85 per cent are covered by private medical insurance, nearly two-thirds of medical expenses are self-funded.

Local government and public-welfare schemes contribute a paltry 7 per cent. Both employer-provided and self-purchased insurance account for 13 per cent.

About 15 per cent of the populace is not covered by either private or government insurance schemes.

Cigna TTK Health Insurance MD and CEO, Sandeep Patel, said: “Cigna 360° Well-being survey highlights three major areas that we as a country should focus on – healthcare moving into digital, financial stability and preparing for retirement.”

The Cigna TTK 360° Well-being Score survey was conducted in 13 countries with a sample size of over 14,219 respondents. In India, over 1,517 respondents were covered through a 20-minute quantitative online survey covering 10 cities (metro and non-metro).

Respondents included a mix of males and females above 25. Cigna TTK 360° Well-being Score is an independent study commissioned by Cigna and conducted by Ipsos.

Patel said that the study “enables us to understand the diversity of the Indian customer”. It points out a need for providing health insurance solutions for customers, focusing on affordability, ease of transaction, accessibility and overall security, he said.

Healthcare apps

In an interesting finding, healthcare apps are becoming increasingly popular in India, and the trend is only growing. Indians are using apps to track and monitor their medical symptoms.

Around 59 per cent of respondents said that their use of medical apps and devices had increased over the past year. Measuring health and fitness goals will be the next digital health management activity, though the cost of installation remains a concern, the survey reveals.

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