Macro/Finance Group, NIPFP

The rise of government-funded health insurance in India

The rise of government-funded health insurance in India, Ila Patnaik, Shubho Roy and Ajay Shah, NIPFP Working Paper No. 231, May 2018.

India has experienced a remarkable proliferation of 48 Government Funded Health Insurance Schemes (GFHIS) from 1997 to 2018. We place the rise of this policy pathway in historical perspective. Under colonial rule, there was considerable importance placed upon public health as a local public good. After independence, the Bhore Committee build a paradigm of public sector health care, and the public health system degraded. In this environment, the political process faced a high disease burden coupled with a weak public health care system. This pressure led to the adoption of GFHIS as a convenient way forward. We identify four areas of concern in this new paradigm of Indian health policy: inefficient lack of focus upon public health, regulatory problems with private health care, weak regulation of health insurance companies, and fiscal risk.