New Delhi: The average cost of treatment in private hospitals, excluding child birth, is about four times than that of public healthcare facilities, reflecting the challenges that India faces in providing affordable and accessible healthcare, according to the Economic Survey.
The Economic Survey 2015-16 tabled in Parliament today also said with limited resources and competing demands in the health sector, it is essential for the government to prioritise its expenditure in the sector.
Citing a report by National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) the survey said: "the average medical expenditure for treatment (excluding child birth) per hospitalised case if treated in private hospital was about four times than that of public hospital during January-June 2014".
On an average, Rs 25,850 was spent for treatment per hospitalised case by people in the private facilities as against Rs 6,120 in the public health facilities, it said.
It further said: "The average total medical and other related nonmedical expenditure per hospitalisation in rural and urban areas are Rs 16,956 and Rs 26,455 respectively."
The average total medical expenditure for non- hospitalised treatment per ailing person in rural and urban areas is Rs 509 and Rs 639 respectively.
"These expenditures reflect the challenges that India faces in the provision of affordable and accessible health care to the population," the survey said.
The NSSO also reports that coverage by government-funded insurance schemes has risen to 13.1 percent of rural India and 12 percent of urban population, it added.
While acknowledging the role of private players, which "continues to play a significant role in the provision of outpatient and hospitalised care", the survey said when it came to 'out of pocket' expenditures for childbirth, the cost in public sector is about one-tenth of that in private sector.
The document said there are innumerable challenges to delivery of efficient health services given the paucity of resources and plethora of requirements in the sector in India.
"With limited resources and competing demands in the health sector, it is essential that Government prioritise expenditure," it added.
Providing accessible, affordable and equitable quality healthcare especially to the marginalised and vulnerable sections of the populations is one of the key objectives of the government, it added.
Drawing attention to the lack of dedicated skilled personnel, it said such human resources are a pre-requisite for efficient and effective delivery of health services.
"However, the availability of such personnel to meet various needs of the health sector is a huge challenge in India. The shortage of specialists, doctors, staff nurses, anesthetists, and others, adversely affects the outreach of health services, especially in rural areas," it added.
Since drugs constitute the bulk of out of pocket expenditure, the government has intensified efforts for provision of free essential drugs in public health facilities under the NHM Free Drugs Initiative, the survey said.