India plans to move towards free universal healthcare coverage

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 19 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6774
  1. Ganapati Mudur
  1. 1New Delhi

A panel of Indian doctors and economists asked by the government to come up with strategies to implement universal healthcare has proposed free health services to be financed mainly through tax revenues.

In its draft report the panel, called the High Level Expert Group, has proposed an increase in public spending on healthcare from the current 1.4% of India’s gross domestic product ($1.54 trillion (£1 trillion; €1.1 trillion) in 2010) to more than 3% by 2016.

The Indian government set up the panel last year amid longstanding concerns that India’s public spending on health has been persistently low and, as a consequence, that 70% of the country’s spending on healthcare comes out of the pockets of patients and their families.

A study published four years ago indicated that up to six million households in India faced catastrophic health costs that could financially cripple them (BMJ 2007;334:447, doi:10.1136/bmj.39139.656678.DB).

The panel says that …

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