Learn About the Healthcare System & Medical Insurance Options for Expats in India
Various states and union territories run the healthcare system in India. Each state is responsible for maintaining citizen’s public health, improving their standard of living, and ensuring the sustainability of those residing within its borders. Since the standard of healthcare is not high in the country, many citizens opt for private medical cover to supplement their level of care, both in urban and rural areas. If you are a visitor planning to travel to India, you must have a healthcare policy in place. It is worthwhile to note that hospitals in India do not recognize all international healthcare providers. In such a situation, one will have to pay upfront. Here’s what you need to know about India healthcare system and medical insurance options for expats.
The public hospitals in India have plenty of English-speaking medical professionals. Although this is helpful for expats, most of them prefer to get treatments in private hospitals of metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. They can cover healthcare costs by obtaining international health insurance from leading global insurance companies.
On the other hand, it is essential to visit your doctor before you travel. The CDC has information on vaccinations to get before going to India.
Overview of Healthcare in India
The lack of adequate funding in the public hospitals, insufficient medical infrastructure, and facilities causes hindrance in accessing quality healthcare. Although a large chunk of the population in India is affluent enough to pay for private healthcare services, the public hospitals continue to remain incredibly overcrowded. The facilities are often not hygienic and very basic in rural areas. The private hospitals are at par with Western hospitals, especially in the metros of Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. The private hospitals offer regular check-ups, consultations, as well as emergency treatments. To ensure that you have access to the best healthcare possible on Indian soil, purchase international health insurance before you begin your travel.
How the Indian Healthcare System Works for Expats
Expats have always been coming to this diverse, vivid, and unique country. The natural beauty and stunning festivals attract tourists and expats from all over the globe. Although the country is becoming one of the largest economies in the world due to the rise in the IT industry, the country is still working on several developmental issues, including gender bias, wealth disparity, and low standard of healthcare. It makes it problematic for expats to access standard healthcare in public hospitals. Hence, it is a lot easier for expats to access to private hospitals. Therefore, most expats prefer to obtain international medical coverage.
Public Healthcare in India
The insufficient funding from the state governments dedicated to healthcare implies that the public hospitals remain inadequately equipped and overcrowded with long queues for treatment and medication. Plus, some hospitals also suffer from poor hygiene and sanitation. Additionally, India suffers from a continuous shortage of adequate medical professionals. While there are a couple of good public hospitals in the metropolitan areas, they are unlikely to be at par with the standard of Western hospitals.
Private Healthcare in India
Private healthcare in India is at par with the developed countries. Expats have access to quality treatment in state-of-the-art facilities with skillful medical professionals. Since the cost of treatment is lower than those in developed countries, India has become a destination for medical tourism. Most private hospitals are located in all the major cities of India. Expats in rural areas would have to travel for a few hours to reach the nearest private hospital.
Emergency medical services in India
Roads in India are notorious for being congested. Since the government-funded ambulances are in poor shape, relying upon them at the time of emergency is not prudent. Also, while paramedics working in urban areas may speak in English, not all paramedics talk in English in rural areas. The private ambulances services are available at a cost. Expats with a comprehensive health insurance policy can reimburse the cost of private ambulance services. Dial 112 in case of an emergency.
Medicines and Pharmacies
The pharmacies in India can be easily located in urban centers. You can find most pharmacies in shopping centers or as part of the healthcare facilities itself. Although local drugs are readily available in the urban areas, the pharmacies in rural areas may be mostly understocked. In such situations, expats traveling to rural cities should bring their medicines.
Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in India
The quality of healthcare services varies in India. Although it shouldn’t be problematic for expats to find well-qualified, English-speaking doctors and nurses in private hospitals of metropolitan cities in India, it is the opposite in rural areas. Locals and most expats use private healthcare, which makes it almost mandatory for them to invest in health insurance. Therefore, expats in India must acquire a comprehensive global health insurance cover that provides medical evacuation and airlifting overseas coverage in case of a medical emergency. There are prominent international insurance plans offered by Cigna Global and Allianz International. Both the public and private healthcare institutions in India recognizes these plans.