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Non-communicable Diseases in India: The Growing Public Health Challenge and the Role of Health Insurance

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Objective: The purpose of this study is to investigate the connection between non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and out-of-pocket (OOP) medical expenses in India. Methods: The study utilized information from the National Sample Survey (NSS) conducted in 2018 to examine the prevalence of NCDs and their relationship with OOP health expenditures. Results: There is a significant association between NCDs and higher OOP health spending in India. For individuals with NCDs, the average health expense per hospitalization episode was INR 19,420, with 89.3% covered by OOP payments and only 10.7% supported by health insurance. Additionally, the prevalence of NCDs varied by state, with Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh experiencing the highest burden of NCDs. Conclusions: The study underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive and multi-sectoral strategy to address the growing burden of NCDs in India. This strategy should encompass NCD prevention, early identification, and management. Policy initiatives should focus on reducing the financial strain of NCDs on Indian households, potentially through increased public health spending, enhanced insurance coverage, and specialized programs targeting NCD prevention and management.

Keywords: India healthcare; health insurance; healthcare costs; non-communicable diseases ; out-of-pocket health expenses; public health expenditures

Appeared or available online: January 22, 2024

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