According to a recent National Sample Survey report, a majority of Indians are struggling to meet their health expenditures. Many countries, apart from a few like the US, several African countries, and India, have achieved free health expenditure and universal healthcare. In India, due to a lack of quality resources and infrastructure, the idea of free healthcare seems a far dream.

As the data shows, about 58 percent of Indians choose private hospitals over government hospitals when it comes to hospitalization. Even though in urban areas, the average cost is Rs 38,000 per hospitalization in private hospitals that are just over Rs 4,800 when compared to government facilities. Performance, say experts in public health, is really the only explanation as to why people are willing to massively overpay money. The difference in cost worsens when looked up for severe diseases. For example, in a private hospital, the average cost of cancer treatment exceeds Rs 93,000. The same thing costs just over Rs 22,000 in a government facility. In big cities, the actual costs get much greater.

Private healthcare’s high cost is driving people into debt. More than 20 percent of overall health spending is achieved by borrowings, friends ‘ donations, or the selling of physical assets such as land or home. Experts say that the situation would drive more Indians into debt crises if the trend continues. There is a massive disparity in compensation between the private and public sectors. A surgeon’s average fee per case is a mere Rs 197 in an urban government hospital, while a private hospital surgeon earns Rs 6,284. This inequity has depleted the skilled public healthcare system, pushing more people to spend all their financial resources in private hospitals in search of better medical treatment.

The solution is to increase total spending on people’s health  — to build infrastructure of quality and to invest in experts. Doctors working in government hospitals throughout the world have repeatedly protested, not without reason.