Indian healthcare spend to increase to 2.5% of GDP

Indian insurance sector still faces low penetration levels vis-a-vis global counterparts, says Bhargav Dasgupta, managing director and CEO, ICICI Lombard, in this interview.

FP Staff December 20, 2011 21:22:23 IST

The Indian insurance sector has seen phenomenal growth over the last decade since the government threw open the doors to private players. Today, insurance premiums stand at Rs45,000 crore vis-a-vis Rs10,000 crore a decade back and there are now 24 companies operating in this space, said Bhargav Dasgupta, managing director and CEO of ICICI Lombard in an exclusive interview to CNBC -TV18.

Indian healthcare spend to increase to 25 of GDP

Bhargav Das Gupta, managing director and CEO of ICICI Lombard.Screen grab fromCNBC -TV18

However, he was concerned with the overall penetration levels in the country as it stands at a minuscule 0.7 percent compared to 4.5 percent in the USA. There is a lot of scope to grow, as penetration levels are low, he said.

India spends only one percent of its GDP on healthcare compared to 17 percent in the USA and 9.7 percent spend by the UN Member countries. The move by the government to increase the spend to 2.5 percent of GDP (12th plan) is a big jump and one has to see how the money will be spent.

At the moment, almost 80 percent of the Rs3 lakh crore healthcare investment is made by the private sector.

The government also needs to do a lot in terms of hospital beds as they stand at a mere 0.77 for every 1,000 people. This is insignificant compared to WHO standards which requires one bed for every 450 people. Another concern area was the shortage of doctors and nurses in the country. He also feels that the government should allow private sector companies to enter the healthcare arena. Another boost for the sector would be granting it "priority sector status".

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