May 30, 2024

Public and Private Health System in India

Public and Private Health System in India


Chapter 1 Notes Social Pharmacy

1.1 Definition and Scope. 1.2 Role of Pharmacists in Public Health. 1.3 Concept of Health -WHO Definition
1.4 Dimensions of health1.5 Determinants of health, 1.6 Indicators of health. 1.7 National Health Policy–Indian perspective 1.8 Public and Private Health System in India1.9 National Health Mission 1.10 Introduction to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1.11  Introduction to Sustainable Development Goals 1.12 Introduction to FIP Development Goals.


Difference between Private and Public Healthcare Services in India

Public health servicesPrivate health services
1. The public health service is a chain of health centres and hospitals run by the government. 1. Private health facilities are not owned or controlled by the government.
2. It is meant to provide quality health care services either free or at a low cost so that even the poor can seek treatment. 2. These services are run for profit; the cost of these services is rather high.
3. Public health services in rural as well as in urban areas.3. Private health services are concentrated mainly in urban areas
4. Patients usually have to wait in long queues in public hospitals.4. People do not face such problems in private hospitals. 

India’s healthcare system consists of both private and public sectors, each offering distinct services to the population. Understanding the differences between these two sectors is important for individuals seeking healthcare and for policymakers aiming to improve healthcare delivery. Here’s a comparison of private and public healthcare services in India:

1. Ownership and Funding:

Public Healthcare:
Public healthcare services are owned and funded by the government. The government is responsible for financing, managing, and providing healthcare services through public hospitals and clinics.

Private Healthcare:
Private healthcare services are owned and operated by private individuals, organizations, or corporations. Patients pay directly for services, and healthcare providers generate revenue through fees, insurance, and other sources.

2. Accessibility:

Public Healthcare:
Public healthcare services aim to provide healthcare to all citizens, especially those who cannot afford private care. However, due to resource constraints, public facilities may face challenges in providing timely and quality care to all.

Private Healthcare:
Private healthcare services are often more accessible for those who can afford them. However, they may not be affordable or accessible for low-income individuals, leading to disparities in healthcare access.

3. Quality of Care:

Public Healthcare:
Public healthcare facilities may vary in terms of quality, infrastructure, and availability of medical staff. While some government hospitals provide excellent care, others may face challenges such as overcrowding and inadequate resources.

Private Healthcare:
Private healthcare services generally offer a higher standard of care, modern facilities, and specialized services. However, the quality can also vary among private providers.

4. Cost:

Public Healthcare:
Public healthcare services are often subsidized by the government to make them affordable for the general population. Patients pay lower fees compared to private facilities, and some services may be free.

Private Healthcare:
Private healthcare services require patients to bear the full cost of care. While they offer better facilities and shorter waiting times, the expenses can be high, making them unaffordable for many.

5. Waiting Times:

Public Healthcare:
Public healthcare facilities, especially in densely populated areas, may have longer waiting times due to high patient volumes and resource limitations.

Private Healthcare:
Private healthcare services generally offer shorter waiting times for consultations, tests, and procedures.

6. Range of Services:

Public Healthcare:
Public healthcare facilities provide a wide range of services, including general medical care, maternal and child health, and some specialized treatments. However, the availability of specialized services may be limited.

Private Healthcare:
Private healthcare services offer a broader range of specialized treatments, diagnostics, and procedures. Patients can access advanced medical technologies and treatments.

7. Doctor-Patient Ratio:

Public Healthcare:
The doctor-patient ratio in public healthcare facilities can be lower due to the scarcity of medical professionals, resulting in longer wait times and reduced doctor-patient interaction.

Private Healthcare:
Private healthcare facilities may have a better doctor-patient ratio, allowing for more personalized care and attention.

8. Health Insurance:

Public Healthcare:
Public healthcare services may not always accept health insurance, and patients often pay directly for services.

Private Healthcare:
Private healthcare services frequently accept health insurance, allowing patients to cover a portion or all of their expenses.

In summary, while both private and public healthcare services play important roles in India’s healthcare system, they differ in terms of ownership, accessibility, quality, cost, and range of services. Public healthcare aims to provide affordable care to all citizens, while private healthcare offers higher-quality services at a cost. Addressing the challenges and disparities in both sectors is essential for improving healthcare access and outcomes for the Indian population.


Indeed, the Covid-19 crisis has implications for all. Firstly, private hospitals now realize how much more scope they have in expanding their services in India. How much additional revenue can they generate? That’s debatable and perhaps that is what will lead them to determine their “potential” serviceable market. They have also realized the terms they’d have to agree to if there is another emergency. This crisis will certainly change “business” terms for private healthcare providers, especially insurance companies, on how they operate.

Secondly, policymakers have also realized how much public health lags in India and how much more needs to be done. Probably they were always aware of it, but the crisis is a major jerk. There is certainly acknowledgment for it, the government recently announced a boost for public healthcare, it is however to be seen how much things change on the ground.

Thirdly, people now realize the demerits of having healthcare largely based on an “out-of-pocket” expenditure model. An average Indian just cannot access private healthcare that owns most of the infrastructure in India, even in case of an emergency. Will people then create political pressure on their elected representatives? A way to see this will be on how much space will upcoming election manifestos give to expenditure on healthcare and insurance.

Lastly, key decision-makers have probably also realized that it will take a long time before public healthcare in India becomes strong enough to independently deliver on its mandate. A way that the government could go about speeding up the process is by actioning its recent health policy and partnering with the private sector, instead of fighting it. Private healthcare, because of being a business unit, is highly efficient but not very equitable. The government needs to view private healthcare as a “business”, acknowledge its “business objectives” and fill in the gaps to make it equitable. In better incentivizing and enabling private healthcare to penetrate rural areas, the government could well capitalize on its “strategic purchasing” of private healthcare units plan and start delivering on its mandate.


The above content is resourced from Copyright: Arun SANKAR / AFP Private Healthcare in India: Boons and Banes


The health care system in India is universal. That being said, there is a great discrepancy in the quality and coverage of medical treatment in India. Healthcare between states and rural and urban areas can be vastly different. Rural areas often suffer from physician shortages, and disparities between states mean that residents of the poorest states, like Bihar, often have less access to adequate healthcare than residents of relatively more affluent states. State governments provide healthcare services and health education, while the central government offers administrative and technical services.

Lack of adequate coverage by the health care system in India means that many Indians turn to private healthcare providers, although this is an option generally inaccessible to the poor. To help pay for healthcare costs, insurance is available, often provided by employers, but most Indians lack health insurance, and out-of-pocket costs make up a large portion of the spending on medical treatment in India.

On the other hand, private hospitals in India offer world-class quality health care at a fraction of the price of hospitals in developed countries. This aspect of health care in India makes it a popular destination for medical tourists. India also is a top destination for medical tourists seeking alternative treatments, such as Ayurvedic medicine. India is also a popular destination for students of alternative medicine.

Resource: Healthcare system in India


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