Located in South Asia, India is well known for three things – its rich culture and landscape, humid weather, and the IT industry.
With the establishment of development centers in India by Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Samsung, Mercedes Benz, and several other top global companies, the expat population in India is growing yearly. In addition to the tech industry, expats commonly work for airlines, hotels, NGOs, and universities.
However, the healthcare system in India is quite precarious in most places, apart from large metros. The Indian healthcare infrastructure leaves much to be desired across most of the country. Expat medical insurance is essential if you are planning to settle in India.
Indian Public Healthcare System – Overburdened and Underfunded
Healthcare in India has a clear demarcation between public and private. Public healthcare is fully funded by the government and financed out of the national and provincial budget.
Every state has public hospitals that are either free or almost free (a charge of $2 USD at most for a bed). The system varies slightly through India’s 29 states and 7 union territories, but overall, these government hospitals are meant for the rural and urban poor. The facilities are rudimentary, and the number of patients outnumbers the number of available beds by quite a large amount.
An expat should avoid treatment through India’s public healthcare system at all costs.
India’s Private Healthcare System – A Study in Contrast
Many private hospitals in India, however, are quite exceptional. They facilities are much newer, and they are staffed by doctors who are knowledgeable and up to date. Most private hospitals boast their ability to meet world-class benchmarks.
It has to be mentioned that India has emerged as a popular medical tourism destination. It draws patients not only from neighboring Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, but also from the U.S. and Europe.
The reason is not hard to deduce. The cost of a bilateral hip replacement in an advanced medical facility in India costs roughly $7,300 (apart from travel, visa, and living expenses). The same surgery costs about $45,000 in the U.S. The same holds true for almost all medical procedures, from cataract surgery to spinal fusions.
Hence, have no fear that you would be deprived of first-world medical care. However, it would be best to take advantage of it using expat medical insurance.
Private Healthcare in India – Preferred Provider Model
The private medical insurance system in India is mostly based on the Preferred Provider Organization or PPO model in the U.S. (as opposed to the HMO model).
The cost of a visit to a GP and outpatient treatment has to be borne out of pocket. However, the cost is negligible, with a consultation with a specialist priced at around INR 1500 (or $25 USD) at most. Most GPs charge far less, no more than $10 USD. The cost of treatment of minor injuries at the emergency ward of private hospitals costs about INR 7000 ($95 USD), including sutures and X-rays.
Similarly, imaging and pathological tests as an outpatient are paid out of pocket.
Private healthcare insurance will provide reimbursement if an overnight stay is needed. Most of the top insurance providers in the world operate in India through alliances and partnerships.
Every hospital offers a cashless facility but has tie-ups with specific insurance companies for pre-approved surgeries. Elective surgery follows the pre-approval model, where the hospital quotes a price termed as a package that is far less than what they would charge usually.
Thus, if you need gallstone surgery and your provider approves of packages from five of the ten private hospitals in the city where you live, you have to visit one of those to receive discounts. Otherwise, you could seek admission to any of the ten private hospitals, be charged regular rates, and have to make the usual insurance cashless claims.
The package system helps you get deep discounts. An angioplasty priced at INR 300,000 (or $400 USD) typically would be available at a 25% discount under a package.
Buying Indian Expat Medical Insurance – Essential Factors to Keep in Mind
If you visit India, you must have expat health insurance. But what are the critical factors you need to know about?
- Co-pay – Expat medical insurance carries co-payment. Patients are usually responsible for about 20% of their bill. This prevents unnecessary visits and checkups that drive up premium costs. However, private hospitals offer comprehensive annual health checkups for between $30 and $60 USD that are excellent and would keep you in good health.
- Not covered expenses – The insurance company would not to pay for any disposable medical equipment, such as diapers, syringes, thermometers, IV cannula, and anything else that has to be thrown away. Usually, these materials are quite cheap in India and not a bother at all.
- Geographical Span – It is vital that the insurance you buy not only covers you in India but also in other parts of the world. As an expat in India, you would find it effortless to visit several picturesque tourist sites across Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Mauritius, and even Australia and New Zealand. It would be best to have medical insurance that is valid in these countries in order to fully utilize your stay in South Asia.
- Coverage in Home Country – From time to time, you will likely visit your home country. Why pay for two medical policies when your expat policy can cover you in your country of origin, as well? Less hassle and less expenditure.
Stay Secure With Expat Health Insurance
Luckily, you can find and compare options from a massive range of expat insurance policies. You have options for both worldwide coverage and worldwide without the U.S./Far East coverage. The latter obviously costs less.
You can compare plans and find the one best suited to your needs, add the riders you want, and buy easily. With India’s affordable and efficient private healthcare system and a number of expat policies at your disposal, you can be assured of complete hassle-free coverage.