Healthcare for Differently-Able People in India: A Long Journey Ahead
Being differently able in a country where the healthcare system is disabled for the normal and fit people who happen to be sick on a specific day is a live nightmare that many people experience. A system that has completely ignored disabled people and their specific needs, the Indian healthcare system is not in sync with the requirements of the disabled as many examples can be noticed where hospitals do not have a simple accessibility to the toilets in the hospitals, to the untrained staff to insurance that is simply denied.
The life quality of people with disabilities is poor in the country. Besides other challenges, people with disabilities face a major challenge when it comes to insurance. Disability insurance plans cover the costs incurred during the treatment of illnesses or hospitalization. While our government has several schemes and plans for the social welfare and rehabilitation of people with different needs, there is a still a lot to be done on the subject of financial independence of the disabled independence.
Health coverage options for the people with disability depend on the type of disability including Congenital Disability, Accidental Disability and Mental Disability. The disability that exists from birth is known as congenital disability including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, cleft palate and lip and “spina bifida” among others. Accidental disability arises out of an accident, including permanent total disability. Mental Disability includes mental illness which impairs the individual’s thoughts, speech, behaviour and functioning including schizophrenia, autism and Asperger’s syndrome
Lack of Technology:
Where there are various technology advancements and healthcare applications in the market that focus on connecting patients with real-time connectivity to healthcare, there are a few known for differently-abled people. The country has various start-ups coming up with solutions but none of them has been mainstreamed yet. The disabled have been facing the challenge of accessibility not only in the physical but the digital world as well.
Initiatives by Indian Government
Swavlamban Health Insurance Scheme for persons with disabilities: The affordable health insurance focuses on persons with Disabilities (PwDs). A prestigious health insurance scheme for persons with disabilities was launched on 2nd October 2015. The insurance covers OPD cover, corrective surgery, pre and posts hospitalization expenses, coverage to family covers up to 2,00,000 per annum as a family floater.
Income Tax 80 DD Deduction: The section 80 DD of the Income Tax Act 1961, allows individuals to claim tax benefits for the expenses incurred on the medical treatment, treatment or rehabilitation of a disabled dependant.
10 D: Life Insurance Policies of Persons with Disability: The section is dedicated to raising the limit of the percentage of the eligible premium for life insurance policies of persons with disability or disease.
Incentives to Private Sector for employing persons with disability: To support the persons with disability’s employment, a total outlay of 1800 crore for the 11th five-year plan, the government plays the employer’s contribution to the Employee Provident Fund and Employees State Insurance for the first three years as an incentive to the private sector
Social Security Scheme for persons with disabilities: Directed towards the poor people with disabilities who are unable to maintain themselves with food and shelter and other basic needs are paid with monthly maintenance allowances of Rs. 400 per month.
Smart City Projects
Smart City Projects are the initiatives of the Indian government towards creating a sustainable, technology-based hassle-free city which better quality of life for everyone. The Indian policymakers have tried to address various concerns that are faced by the differently-abled as they are aware of the issue and Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. The Disabilities Act focuses on ease of access to public or private buildings, workplaces, commercial activities, public utilities, religious, cultural, leisure or recreational activities, medical or health services, law enforcement agencies, transport infrastructure, among others.
Ensuring inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in the workplace, neighbourhood activities and in social life, the smart city mission is an opportunity for a better quality of life and healthcare for the disabled. The mission ensures:
- Access to pathways, junctions, footpaths, bus shelters, crossings and public transportation.
- Accessible websites, applications, government portals or community engagement platforms.
- Accessible digital technology for websites, mobile applications, products and services
- Accessible buildings, parks, playgrounds, schools, colleges, hospitals, recreational areas, public toilets, etc
These initiatives and potential government spending in the technology, infrastructure and other aspects are crucial to help and support the citizens of the country who have special needs; however, it is still important to have young entrepreneurs come up with solutions that can revolutionize various aspects of the disabled citizens in the country.