New research shows that the costs of a hospital stay can mean that poor families in India go hungry. This is because poor families often have to pay for hospital stays and lose an average of 36 days’ worth of earnings. Researchers from analysed data from 4000 households in 300 villages in southern India in 2009. Poor households also face a higher debt burden than rich households if they have to pay for hospitalisation. As a result, there is unequal access to good quality health care in India. It is recommended that the government should help poor people get better access to good health care. A health insurance scheme which charged a premium equal to the average expenditure on health care would reduce the financial risks from illness for the poor.
iiG Briefing Paper 13, CSAE Economics Department, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, 2 pp.