The Indian Constitution makes the provision of healthcare in India the responsibility of the state governments, rather than the central federal government. It makes every state responsible for “raising the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties.”
The National Health Policy was endorsed by the Parliament of India in 1983 and updated in 2002, and then again updated in 2017. The recent four main updates in 2017 mentions the need to focus on the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, on the emergence of the robust healthcare industry, on growing incidents of unsustainable expenditure due to health care costs and on rising economic growth enabling enhanced fiscal capacity.
India has a vast health care system, but there remain many differences in quality between rural and urban areas as well as between public and private health care. Despite this, India is a popular destination for medical tourists, given the relatively low costs and high quality of its private hospitals.
The health care system in India is universal. That being said, there is great discrepancy in the quality and coverage of medical treatment in India. Healthcare between states and rural and urban areas can be vastly different. Rural areas often suffer from physician shortages, and disparities between states mean that residents of the poorest states, like Bihar, often have less access to adequate healthcare than residents of relatively more affluent states. State governments provide healthcare services and health education, while the central government offers administrative and technical services.
Healthcare has become one of India’s largest sectors – both in terms of revenue and employment. Healthcare comprises hospitals, medical devices, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance and medical equipment. The Indian healthcare sector is growing at a brisk pace due to its strengthening coverage, services and increasing expenditure by the public as well private players.
Some major initiatives are taken by Indian government to promote healthcare industry. On September 23, 2018, Government of India launched Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), to provide health insurance worth Rs 500,000 (US$ 7,124.54) to over 100 million families every year. In August 2018, the Government of India has approved Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission as a centrally Sponsored Scheme contributed by both center and state government at a ratio of 60:40 for all States, 90:10 for hilly North Eastern States and 60:40 for Union Territories with legislature. The center will contribute 100 per cent for Union Territories without legislature.
This aspect of health care in India makes it a popular destination for medical tourists. India also is a top destination for medical tourists seeking alternative treatments, such as ayurvedic medicine. India is also a popular destination for students of alternative medicine.