It’s the 73rd Republic Day and there’s a lot to celebrate. After a contraction due to the pandemic, the economy is poised to record 9.2% growth in the current financial year. But the pandemic also brought health to the limelight. How successful has the largest democracy in the world been in democratising access to quality health benefits? As India stands on the brink of greatness, let us take a pause and ask whether all is well.
Can a country hope for a healthy economy when a vast majority of its citizens do not have access to basic healthcare? This reminds me of a quote by Mahatma Gandhi – “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”
Do only the wealthy have the right to be healthy?
No doubt the Indian healthcare ecosystem has added many feathers to its cap over the past few decades. It is one of the economy’s largest sectors, both in terms of employment and contribution to GDP. Even them India’s healthcare industry is estimated at $372 billion, versus $4.1 trillion in the US. What does this really mean for their citizens? It means that healthcare spending per person in the US is more than $10,000 per annum, versus less than $300 in India. What’s even more glaring is that only a small percentage of our population has access to healthcare.
The government has made health a priority, with schemes like Ayushman Bharat to achieve universal health coverage and holistically address healthcare. The Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) have expanded access. However, government policy and private firms need to come together to create a roadmap for access to quality health benefits for all.
It is a cause for concern that over 40 crore Indians lack proper health insurance. A 2021 Niti Ayog report termed this as the “missing middle”. These people, who fall between the extremely poor and the populous sections, don’t have financial protection despite their ability to pay.
Moreover, health needs to be looked at holistically. The WHO says health is not merely the absence of disease, but a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellness.
So, on this Republic Day, as we commemorate the Constitution of India coming into effect, we ask whether it is time to change the narrative on health. The right to health is ingrained in our constitution. However, the right to quality health benefits should be included in the contribution under fundamental rights, since it is closely linked to the right to life.
The laws are changing to include right to affordable treatment, as recently upheld by Chhattisgarh High Court. The focus should be on affordable health benefits, so that the missing middle can get access to holistic and quality services. It is time to democratise access to quality health benefits.
Constructing a bridge on the road to progress – Human Right to Health
The way to increase access to health benefits for the missing middle is by empowering SMEs and emerging businesses to offer their employees affordable, yet holistic health plans.
After all, Indian SMEs employed over 110 million people in 2021. These businesses employ nearly 40% of India’s workforce coming from urban, semi-urban, and rural areas. These are also the firms that hire from the gig economy, which has created significant livelihood opportunities for low-income workers in recent years.
But what’s in it for them? Why should SMEs, start-ups and emerging businesses be interested in the health status of Indians?
Benefits to Businesses:
- By providing access to quality health benefits, such businesses can attract the talent they need, increase employee retention and drive productivity.
- Businesses can also enjoy tax benefits. For instance, the entire amount paid towards premiums on group health insurance policies can be claimed as a business expense, thereby reducing the taxable income.
Empowering businesses for healthy growth
SMEs, start-ups, and emerging businesses need to be empowered to disseminate health benefits to the missing middle. This is possible with India’s 1st digital employee health benefits platform. Onsurity’s full-stack employee health benefits platform is a game-changer in democratising access to quality healthcare for millions in our country. Here’s how:
Unbelievably easy and lightning fast: A tech-driven platform like Onsurity empowers businesses by making comprehensive health benefits available to employees in an easy and affordable way. It takes less than 2 minutes to register on the online platform and firms can begin with as few as 3 members.
Transparent: The online dashboard makes it simple and fast to choose the plans, add and delete members as they join and leave the organisation, manage the monthly billings, and make payments.
Affordable: This next-gen platform is powered by cutting-edge technology to provide a host of health benefits on a monthly subscription of as low as ₹145, with zero annual commitment.
Holistic: Apart from group health, term life, and accidental insurance packages, the Onsurity health benefits platform offers several benefits like personalised help with cashless hospitalisation and filing for claims, teleconsultation with doctors, high discounts on lab tests and medicines, and a variety of sessions like mental health, yoga, and improving lifestyle.
By making access to health benefits affordable and easy to manage, businesses can offer memberships to employees and their families, contractual workers, and freelancers that they hire. Sophisticated technology and the right intentions can democratise access to quality health benefits. But the government needs to
After 7 decades of being a Republic and only 20% of the population with access to quality health benefits, India needs a revolutionary platform like Onsurity to pave a healthy way towards becoming a $5 trillion economy. Providing comprehensive health benefits in a click, Onsurity has just levelled the playing field for the missing middle.
The healthcare sector still needs a booster shot from the upcoming Union Budget. The budget must provide incentives to make access to quality healthcare affordable for the missing middle.