Despite Their Economic Strides, China and India Lag on Health Care

China and India, often cited as two rising economic powerhouses, are less than fully equipped in terms of health care, a key attribute of national economic development, according to Amartya Sen. Emergence of the United States, Europe, Japan and Korea as developed economic powerhouses validates Sen’s argument. China and India, representing one out of three people on the planet, must step up efforts to remedy the gaps in health care to realize their economic potential.

India and China have adopted insurance as a tool to provide health-care access and mitigate catastrophic expenditures. India has 20 percent penetration of insurance while China has managed over 95 percent penetration. Each nation has adopted an independent route towards achieving universal health coverage. Despite good intentions, both nations are struggling with the complexities of deploying insurance. China struggles with issues of limited health-insurance benefits and high out-of-pocket expenditure. India on the other hand struggles with variability across a myriad of insurance schemes and limited engagement of the private sector.