While the US is a top developed country, India is counted amongst the leading developing nations across the world. Over the decades, the standard of living has improved in both countries. Though, it has improved exponentially in the US.

Today, a large number of people in both countries lead a sedentary lifestyle. A major chunk of people sit for more than eight hours a day, thanks to their desk jobs. Even the children prefer to play games on their Xbox instead of playing outdoor games. The poor lifestyle has given rise to a lot of health problems. This has resulted in frequent visits to the doctor.

Healthcare in the US vs. the World

Over the years, the cost of healthcare services has shot up around the world. As per the OECD Health Data 2017, in Canada, the per capita health expenditure is about USD 4753, while in the UK it is USD 4123. While the USA is known for its best quality healthcare, it comes at an exorbitant price. According to the National Health Expenditures Account 2016, the total health expenditure per capita in the US is USD 10348.

Affordability of Healthcare in India

Even though healthcare in India is more economical than healthcare in the USA, there is a stark difference in access to healthcare services in both countries. In spite of the wide availability of health insurance plans in India, a lot of people in India especially from the economically weaker section, are unable to afford quality medical services. Despite the nominal premium, health insurance is unaffordable for most of these people.

This is not the case in the US as people have better access to healthcare services than people in India.

Let’s take a look at how healthcare in India is different from that in the USA:

Access to Healthcare Facilities

The economies of the US and India say a lot about the facilities available for the citizens. Since it is a developed country, people in the US have better access to basic amenities like healthcare, sanitation, clean drinking water, etc. Moreover, the government has prioritized its focus on the improvement of the healthcare services offered in the country. The situation, however, is different in India.

India is a developing country with a dense population. A good number of people live below the poverty line and do not have access to basic amenities including clean drinking water, proper food, sanitation, etc. To top it all, a lot of these people do not have access to quality healthcare facilities in India. As per reports, the US spends 17% of its GDP on healthcare while India spends only 4% GDP on healthcare.

Mandatory Requirement

Until 2018, it was mandatory for all American citizens to buy a valid health insurance policy. Moreover, it was compulsory for all employers in the US to provide health insurance cover to all its employees for the entire period of employment. People who did not fulfill this requirement had to pay a penalty at the time of filing their federal income tax return.

As of 2019, current President of the US- Mr. Donald Trump has modified the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that revoked the individual mandate. As per the latest modifications, US citizens have the freedom to decide whether they want to buy health insurance or not.

On the other hand, health insurance is not mandatory under Indian law. Buying a health insurance policy is optional for Indian citizens. Additionally, the employers are under no legal obligation to provide insurance coverage to their employees.

Extent of Coverage

There is a vast difference in the extent of healthcare coverage offered in India and the US. Different types of health insurance plans in USA cover all sorts of medical expenses incurred by the insured be it doctor’s consultation charges or something as minor as the flu.

On the contrary, health insurance plans in India typically cover the pre-hospitalization and post-hospitalization expenses. Only a handful of insurance providers in India cover daycare or OPD expenses. Any other incurred medical expenses have to be paid by the insured from their own pockets.

Rate of Premium

The average rate of premium in the US is higher than that in India. This is because the cost of living in the US is higher.

On the other hand, the standard of living is lower in India. Additionally, a large number of people have not opted for health insurance in India. Moreover, if the rate of premium will be increased in India, the chances of many people opting out of a health insurance policy will be on the higher side.

State-Wise Insurance Policy

In the US, health insurance policies are specific to the laws of the state. Different types of health insurance plans are governed differently in different states. The situation is different in India. Policies on health facilities are uniform throughout the country and are governed by the Central government. As a result, citizens throughout the country have access to the same health insurance plans offering the same benefits.

Health Insurance Benefits to Employees

In India, if an employer decides to offer health insurance to its employees, it only covers the current employees of the organization. When an employee resigns from their position in the company, the insurance cover is revoked.

The US offers better benefits when it comes to employee health insurance. An employer in the US provides health insurance to all of its employees including the ones who have resigned. The employee who had resigned continues to be covered under the employer’s health insurance policy until they find another job.

Out of Pocket Expenses for Healthcare Services

In the US, only 10-12 % of the total population pays for healthcare services from its own pockets. This is because most of the American citizens have purchased one of the various types of health insurance plans.

In sharp contrast, in India, almost 70% of the population hasn’t opted for health insurance. As a result, it pays for the healthcare services from their own pocket.

Public-Private Healthcare System

In India, healthcare services are offered by both public hospitals and private hospitals. Although health care services are provided by the government for all, the quality of healthcare facilities provided at the government hospitals is very basic. On the contrary, the healthcare services offered by private hospitals are much better but they cost a bomb. A middle-class individual can’t afford them.

In the US, laws provide equal access to health care services to all its citizens. For instance, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or Obamacare aims to provide affordable and quality healthcare services to all American citizens.

Over to you!

As compared to the US, access to healthcare services in India differs to a great extent. Both countries can learn from each other and provide better quality services to their citizens.