Health Insurance in India vs the United States: Cultural differences within Health Insurance

health insurance in India

Health insurance in India is much different than in the United States. Healthcare is much different.

Migrating from another country into a culture which is varied from your native culture can bring a different outlook towards existing challenges at a place. In this article, I would like to talk about an interesting difference between the way health insurance works culturally in India and the United States.

Insurance Adoption Rate

Less than 20 percent of the Indian population has health insurance as compared to 91.2 percent of Americans. This is a scanty amount of people who have the security for their finances in the occurrence of an unfortunate event.

Awareness and Affordability

One of the indispensable aspects which affect the health insurance percent in India is the awareness of its benefits. More than 30 percent of Indians are illiterate who do not understand the importance of visiting a doctor on most of the occasions, let alone having health insurance to help pay for it. Poverty is also one of the reasons why the percentage is lower. Many would have a choice between feeding their families twice a day or paying the monthly insurance premiums.

Religious Beliefs

Furthermore, the concept of health insurance depends a lot upon the culture of the place you are trying to sell it. There are people with various beliefs across the world. Believing vaccines help you immunize yourself against diseases can also be a controversial topic. Religious beliefs in India might be another factor affecting the low health insurance acceptance. There is a part of people who believe in the superstitions more than in the necessity of protecting themselves financially by getting insurance. There are people who would say “God will help and protect us when we are in need and we would rather donate money to the temple instead of the health insurance premium.”

Retirement Differences

Moreover, there are retirement pension plans for people who served the government and related agencies. This ensures guaranteed monthly salary even after retirement. This accounts for a large population among the older generation in India. Culturally, people believe they can pay for the medical bills with their regular monthly salary. They do not feel the need to think of a safety option such as insurance. Pension plans demotivate people to have health insurance in their old age. This is because they have a reliable monthly income to pay for their medical needs.

Traditionally, in India, elders are not generally addressed by their first names. Good etiquette mandates that elders are treated in a more formal manner. Elders are not exalted for their age, but for their experience and achievements. India is a family culture, which is a close-knit culture where elders influence younger members. Elders make most of the decisions in the home. Children expect to take care of their parents after a certain age. This not only includes living and food, but also includes health and medicine. This is why people generally do not think about their financial security, or medical expenses, in their old age. Everyone assumes that their kids will take care of it for them.

Medical Expenses

Also, medical treatment in India is considerably less expensive and affordable without health insurance, as compared to the United States. A simple hospital MRI scan can cost as high as $2500 to $3000 for a specific body part in the US, whereas, it costs about $150 for the entire body MRI scan in India. This discourages Indians to spend money on the insurance premium, as the insurance is most useful only in high-cost situations. It is not necessary for regular medicine and doctor visits.

In the United States, healthcare costs make it important to have insurance to protect yourself financially. Older Americans need Medicare, a Medicare supplement, and a prescription drug plan. Younger Americans need a medical plan and everyone should have life insurance. Why? because of the costs and culture, without insurance, a family could suffer financially.

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