There is no respite in India’s woes when it comes to healthcare. While the common man faces acute shortage of hospital beds and doctors, the rising medical expenses haven’t helped their cause. According to a report by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), consumer expenditure on healthcare is ever increasing both in urban and rural India post 2004-05.
While the consumer expenditure on healthcare in rural India increased from 6.6 per cent in 2004-05 to 6.9 per cent in 2011-2012, urban Indians’ expenditure on medical care increased from 5.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 5.5 per cent in 2011-2012. Medical expenses fall under the miscellaneous goods and services category in the NSSO report.
The survey shows that miscellaneous goods and services constitute 26.1 per cent of consumer expenditure in rural India while it stands 39.7 per cent for urban India in 2011-12. Apart from medical care, the miscellaneous goods and services category also includes expenses on education, entertainment, toilet articles, other household consumables, consumer services excluding conveyance, conveyance, minor durable-type goods, rent, taxes and cesses.
NSSO report also reveals that expenditure on healthcare is highest in rural India and fifth highest in urban India during 2011-2012 in miscellaneous goods and services category.
Voicing concern over the impoverishing impact of health and medical expenses on the vulnerable sections of the society, President Pranab Mukherjee while addressing 40th convocation function of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi said, “It was unacceptable that almost 80 per cent of the expenditure on healthcare by people was met by personal, out of pocket, payment. I am shocked to note that as many as 4 crore people of our country plunge into poverty each year due to expenses on medical treatment.”