eClinics Blog

Major Differences in Healthcare between The USA and India

How the overall infrastructure operates has a strong grip on the difference between a developing and a developed country. This blog takes into consideration the healthcare infrastructure and status and highlights the differences between India and the United States of America (US) on that basis.

It needs no justification or proof that the US holds a significant edge over India when it comes to the healthcare services. A clear indicator of this is the fact that the average life expectancy in India is 69 years which remains much lower than that in the US at 78.7 years. Another example is that against the WHO standard of 1:100, the India-US ratio of availability of doctors per 1000 is 0.62: 2.55, according to an India Express article published in July last year. Similarly, availability of hospital beds per patient is also significantly lower in India than that in the US.

Let us take a look at how India compares with the US on other aspects of healthcare.

  • Public health ecosystem: United States of America stands far ahead of India when it comes to public health scenario. A large proportion of the India population still lack adequate access to proper sanitation, clean and sufficient drinking water and right nutrition, as compared to the US. Highly ignored in India, these are strong variables to establish an effective healthcare infrastructure in a country. The Indian government is yet to take appropriate measures in this direction.
  • Primary healthcare facilities: The US government healthcare facilities are far more advanced than those in India as Obamacare aims to provide health coverage and care accessible to more natives. On the contrary, the primary healthcare facilities in India struggle to provide adequate health support to the patients. Given the substandard care in public hospitals and costly treatment at private ones, many patients unfortunately have to go without a treatment or turn to quacks.
  • Government spending on healthcare: The Indian government seems to be lagging behind phenomenally on a global level and has a long way to go before it can come near the US with respect to healthcare spending. A Times of India article published in October 2017 stated that India spent only 1.2% of its GDP on healthcare. On the other hand, the US spent approximately 18% of its GDP on health in 2016 alone, according to Health System Tracker. Clearly, this difference is huge and indicates a potential difference between the healthcare commitment levels of the governments in both the countries.
  • Health insurance/scope of coverage: The United States of America and India both have a mix of public and private insurance. It is only that the US government is more serious about its citizens covered under health insurance and it is almost mandatory for them to have a health insurance coverage. As compared with 10.9% uninsured US population in 2016, more than 80% of India population still lacks a health insurance coverage. The condition is even worse in rural locations. Moreover, as against the US where the entire healthcare treatment is covered under health insurance, insurance only covers the hospitalization cost in India.
  • Out-of-pocket expenditure: Rising healthcare costs and limited insurance coverage have kept the out-of-pocket expenditure for the Indians way more than that in the US. According to a The Hindu article in December 2017,  out-0f-pocket expenditure for Indians stood at 62% of all healthcare costs, much higher than what it was in the US–20%. This pushes several financially-weak families into poverty and medication costs, which are not covered, constitute a major part of treatment.
  • Regulations and policy implementation: The US healthcare industry keeps the privacy of the patient data on priority and follows HIPAA rules related to digital information security in healthcare industry. In India, on the contrary, healthcare regulations are not as strong. Several healthcare centers commit the privacy breach pertaining to patient data.
  • Drug prescription: The US regulations are quite strict when it comes to purchasing drugs and it requires a patient prescription before the pharmacy sells him/her the required medicines. In India, on the other hand, several drugs and medicines are available without a prescription and this encourages illegal sale and consumption of restricted or prohibited drugs.

Despite all the key differences stated above, India still holds certain advantages over the US in healthcare services. Although it may take some time for India to enhance the healthcare services to offer optimized treatments to the patients. is still possible for India to improve its healthcare facilities and become the healthcare superpower in years to come. After all, the demand for quality healthcare services looks to be on the rise and is expected to reach $280 billion by 2020. Despite a long lag, India holds the capability to come on an equal footing with the US in the healthcare space. It may take time, though. Let’s wait and watch!

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