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Health Insurance and the Indian Dracula:

Updated on December 30, 2009

Ills Of Health Insurance In India

I don't know when it started but I came to know the ills of health insurance when I took my nine months pregnant wife for a final checkup a couple of years back.  The doctor ordered for a blood test and ultrasound scan.  The laboratory apparently belonged to the same small hospital (known as nursing home in India).  We met the doctor with the results the same day evening.  After knowing that we have health insurance cover provided by the company where I work, the doctor citing inadequate liquor recommended admission for a cesarean section well fifteen days before the due date.  As my wife had two ultrasound scans previously which were completely normal, we went back to the gynecologist who cared for my wife’s pregnancy.  She recommended another ultrasound scan from a different laboratory and the report confirmed a normal nine months pregnancy.  Ten days after that my wife delivered a healthy child in a different hospital through normal vaginal delivery.

A couple of months back, my cousin met with an accident which resulted in a ligament tear.  The orthopedist offered surgical treatment which would cost about one lac rupees.  No need to tell that my cousin had a health insurance card.  The cost of the MRI which he referred was 6000 rupees which is otherwise 3000 rupees in the same laboratory.  Apparently, 3000 rupees goes to the doctor’s pocket.  My cousin went for second opinion and got the ligament tear treated non-surgically which healed in two months and is undergoing physiotherapy now.

Four days back my nephew got anal fissure surgically treated.  The cost was 10,000 rupees but when he flashed his health insurance card it immediately jumped to 20,000 rupees.  I don't know where this trend is going towards and how insurance companies and patients are going to deal with this in future.  I and my friends have decided to deal with these Draculas by going for a second opinion whenever the doctor suggests multiple examinations or surgery.

The most ridiculous thing happened this November.  One of my uncles went to a cardiologist with heel pain and got admitted into hospital and underwent multiple examinations including echocardiogram and eye examinations for cataract (my uncles has a good eye sight). He was there in the hospital for a couple of days.  The total cost for the insurance company was 15,000 rupees.  At this rate, every one of India’s one billion people would have undergone some kind of surgery by 2015 and Health Insurance Companies would become extinct.  

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