Rising Healthcare Costs: The New Middle Class Burden
Escalating house rents; impossible real estate prices; increasing commute costs; spiraling fuel rates; the sliding Indian rupee doesn’t promise to go far for the middle classes in the near future. Even at 10 per cent, consumer-price inflation in India shows no signs of slowing down this financial year. In a scenario where it costs more to keep a job than benefit from it, healthcare is what shakes an already unstable ship for a majority of Indians.
In 2011, a survey by Towers Watson found that with medical costs rising at a rate beyond inflation and growing at over 10 per cent for four years in a row, the burden of healthcare has become increasingly heavy on the middle classes. (via)
Yateesh Srivastava, Chief Marketing Officer AEGON Religare says, “Healthcare costs are rising steadily and one sees no reversal of this trend in the near future. In such scenario unforeseen medical costs can play havoc with the budgets and future plans of households across the country. The government expenditure on healthcare is constrained by several factors and almost 80% of healthcare in the country is self-funded. One startling statistic is that almost half the number of people who face hospitalization have to sell a personal asset in order to meet the cost of treatment.”
In a time when communicable and non-communicable diseases are both on the rise, expensive healthcare spells trouble for financial stability. Dr. Aniruddha Malpani says, “New generation antibiotics are becoming more expensive – as are the tests and technology treatment options available.”
Dr. Nishant Tyagi elaborates, “Medical treatment is becoming costlier for both, communicable and non-communicable diseases. There are two reasons for this - high cost for the existing treatment, which increases 5-10% annually like inflation. Two - availability of newer treatments and procedures, which we learn from the West and bring it here at high cost. This includes newer drugs being launched like anti cancer drugs in non communicable category and new antibiotics in communicable. Still, a major rise is in the non communicable category."
How does this affect the common man? Quite adversely. Non-communicable diseases and other critical illnesses translate to serious health conditions that require expensive medical attention, the kind that spells trouble for salaried folks. Treatments for cancer, stroke, heart transplants, kidney failures, and heart surgeries - among others – are not merely expensive, they can prove to be crippling.
So what can you do about it? Yateesh Srivastava, Chief Marketing Officer AEGON Religare says it best – “In such a scenario it is absolutely critical to have health insurance to cover the cost of expensive hospitalization. There are a number of plans available in the market; however, the least one should be covered for is hospitalization and surgical costs.”