Excessive healthcare is emerging as a serious issue in India, the World Bank warned today, saying people with private health insurance are two to three times more likely to be hospitalised than the national average.
Many of these medical interventions deliver only marginal benefits and can actually harm the patients, leading to unnecessary suffering, especially among the frail and elderly, it said.
The harmful practice can worsen as, it said, many more people will be able to afford healthcare as the government ramps up medical coverage for poor households.
“Medical overuse is emerging as a serious issue in India, especially as more people can afford to pay for medical interventions due to increasing access to insurance cover.
Therefore, India urgently needs to learn from the experience of other countries and build in checks against this hazard, especially as it allocates a growing share of scarce public resources for medical insurance,” it said.
The World Bank’s warning comes amid concern expressed by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan over “corruption” in regulatory body Medical Council of India and the “nexus” of doctors and diagnostic centres, resulting in patients being asked for unnecessary tests.
“This is a critical time for India since the country is in the midst of building a healthcare system which will set conditions for decades to follow,” said Somil Nagpal, senior health specialist with the World Bank in India.