“Demand side” health insurance in India: The price of obfuscation

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In India, most healthcare expenses are patients’ out-of-pocket payments to private sector providers. Catastrophic health expenditures drive millions of families deeper into poverty. To save poorer households, hundreds of government-funded health insurance schemes have been introduced since the 2000s. These “demand side” schemes suggest that treatments in the private sector will be fully reimbursed. Fieldwork in one of India’s largest hospitals shows that GFHIs overpromise. GFHIs are designed to turn patients into co-creators of healthcare value, but instead they deepen individuals’ lack of market transparency. Poor patients pay the price for the state’s lack of trust in them.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical Anthropology
Early online date28 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 May 2021


  • health insurance
  • India
  • poverty
  • neoliberalism
  • healthcare financing
  • value


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