Fall in hospitalisations in 2017-18 compared to 2014
The findings of the latest survey on the state of India’s health by the National Statistical Office shows that the number of Indians reporting ailments dropped by 2.1 percentage points in rural areas and 2.7 percentage points in urban areas between 2014 and 2017-18.Updated: Jul 22, 2020 10:21 IST
Did Indians get healthier between 2014 and 2017-18? After all fewer Indians reported ailments or required hospitalisation in 2017-18 as compared to 2014.
The findings of the latest survey on the state of India’s health by the National Statistical Office shows that the number of Indians reporting ailments dropped by 2.1 percentage points in rural areas and 2.7 percentage points in urban areas between 2014 and 2017-18. These findings are based on ailments reported by people in the 15 days preceding the survey.
The survey also found that the share of the population admitted to a hospital in the year preceding the survey dropped by nearly one percentage point in both rural and urban areas between 2014 and 2017-18.
Interestingly, the proportion of those reporting ailments and those hospitalised rose between 1995-96 and 2014, according to three NSO surveys on health in this period.
Infection was most common ailment
It was also the most cited reason for hospitalisation. One in three ailing people reported having suffered an infection.
Cardiovascular disease was the second most reported ailment, followed by endocrine and metabolic disorders (body’s over- or under-production of certain hormones and disorders affecting the body’s ability to process certain nutrients and vitamins), and respiratory diseases.
Three in four ailing people suffered one of these diseases.
However when it comes to hospitalisation,infection was also the leading cause for hospitalisation (31.5% people were hospitalised with an infection). While cardiovascular disease was the second most reported ailment, it was the fourth biggest cause of hospitalisation, trailing injuries and gastrointestinal diseases.
Most do not have health insurance
Nearly 86% people in rural India and 81% in urban India are not covered by health insurance . As a result, about four in five Indians pay for hospitalisation out of their household income or savings. Indeed, 13.4% people in rural areas and 8.5% in urban areas borrow money to pay their hospital expenses.
These figures significantly vary among states. For example, nearly everyone in rural Goa and 98% people in urban Goa pay for their hospital expenses out of their household income or savings, while only 52% people in rural Andhra Pradesh and 65% in urban Andhra Pradesh use household income or savings. Andhra Pradesh has the highest proportion of people who borrow money to pay for hospital expenses – 28% in rural areas and 16% in urban areas.
Rs16,000-25,000 paid for each hospital visit
A single case of hospitalisation costs on average Rs 16,676 in rural India and Rs 26,475 in urban areas. As expected, being admitted in a private hospital costs a lot more than a government hospital – six times more in rural areas and eight times more in urban areas. A spell of hospitalisation in urban areas costs ~38,822 in a private hospital on average, compared to ~4,837 in a government hospital.
Indians spend 7 days in hospital on average
On average, a person who is hospitalised in India stays admitted for 6.9 days. But a person admitted to a private hospital is likely to stay admitted for a day more than a person admitted to a government hospital. Nearly 71.7% patients in government hospitals and 66.4% in private hospitals are discharged in less than seven days.
The time spent in a hospital also depends on the kind of ailment a person has. For example, a cancer patient admitted to a hospital spends an average of 13.2 days in the hospital while one with an eye ailment spends only three days. Psychiatric and neurological patients spend the second highest time in hospitals, 8.7 days on average, followed by those admitted with injuries, who spend 8.3 days on average.
Professor Indranil Mukhopadhyay, who teaches public health at Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, said it needs to be studied why the number of people reporting ailments and those being hospitalised has dropped.
“It’s very strange and counterintuitive because throughout the world there’s no evidence that utilisation of healthcare has dropped with increasing income and availability of health care,” he said.
However, he said one reason for a drop in the number of people reporting ailments could be the seasonality of the survey.
“It’s for the first time in two decades that a full round of the health survey was conducted, which means that it was conducted throughout the year unlike six-monthly surveys in the past two rounds.”