Barriers in Healthcare Access in India and America

When we think about healthcare, what immediately pops into your head? Some would say the access, while others would comment on its development over the years. Some would even immediately think of the ways healthcare is presented towards the community. Although all of these are true, it differs in different places.

Take two of some of the larger countries, America and India, for example whose approach to medicine can’t be contrasted anymore. America is a more developed country where almost everything is influenced, even medicine. India is a developing country with one of the largest populations where medicine is distributed and seen differently.

Medicine, in its own right, is one of the more important factors to keep a country thriving. Without access: the population begins to die and the economy will deplete. So, how can we compare access with a developing country with one of the largest populations to a developed country with influence. The results vary, but the underlying issues are all too similar and suggest a clear trend – creating unexpected parallels between the two.

Barriers in the American healthcare landscape

America’s conversation about healthcare issues has been heard for decades. American citizens are not able to afford it. Insurance coverage is scant. Many cannot afford their necessary prescriptions, such as insulin, in order to survive. There are many factors for why a developed and influential country like America is struggling and overcharging life saving medication to maximize profits despite having a diverse political space and an influential pharmaceutical market.

The burden that the American public has to face with such burdens is excruciating. Many lifesaving procedures are overpriced. Take for example giving birth. The average total of vaginal birth is 10,000+ USD without insurance, and a C-section averages out to 20,000+ USD. (Note that these are just without complication). However, if there are any complications during the processes, you may be charged up to 30,000-50,000 just to deliver the baby. This threat of potential bankruptcy has given a rise to other cheaper alternatives, such as midwives where the cost is significantly lower than that of a hospital – a place of refuge and sanctuary.

For many in the emergency room, that sanctuary feels nothing like it. Witnessing it firsthand does nothing but cause more dread. Wait times being around 6+ hours, people being brought back out to the waiting room because there are available beds in the ER, people not being labeled as critical when they have seizures because of how backed up it is, and overflow being so bad that the pediatrics emergency department has to be converted to an overflow emergency room.

How does the scenario look like in India?

India has been on the rise and slowly developing throughout the years, both in population and economy. However, with roughly 65% of the population living in rural areas, the barriers to accessing healthcare in India is still an issue. This is because those in rural areas not being able to physically access healthcare centers to meet their needs and a lack of professionals in said areas. Therefore, influencing the wave of internal migrant workers who emigrate to urban areas for work opportunities.

Here, a trend of mistrust of medical professionals has been seen which seems to have stemmed from the poor healthcare conditions in rural areas now creating another barrier in urban areas. This distrust is beginning to affect not only the integrity of the healthcare system, but also the health of the population. When these migrant workers start to suffer injuries and illnesses in their new environment, they carry the disease with them when they migrate back – leading to more complications in the rural areas.

The conditions that both of these countries face is excruciating for both the population and the healthcare system and its effectiveness. Without a system that people can depend on, it begins to struggle, and vice versa. Without a dependable healthcare structure, people cannot trust that the system will be acting for their best interest- as seen in America’s system.

The integral role of economy in healthcare

Apart from distrust, the economic status of the two countries play a role. India’s policy is set as a federal structure and health is a national theme. Often, the budgets earmarked for healthcare spending by the central government are not utilized fully, raising the questions about how this system can be improved. Due to low spending as a percentage of GDP by the government, people end up spending from their own pockets and some even end up being impoverished. This problem is further accentuated by low insurance rates in India.

The same issue can be seen in America’s healthcare system, where the system is influenced by both the federal and state government. Even though the insurance is more openly accessible doesn’t mean it is openly attainable. A large part of American population is either uninsured or have weak insurance rates. Which is why initiatives such as Obamacare and Medicare/Medicaid sprung up as possible subsidies to help many Americans tackle the unfair and problematic healthcare system.


With both experiencing barriers at different levels and because of different causes, finding a solution may be difficult. Since, these issues are systematically rooted, overcoming barriers within both healthcare systems will have to account for several factors before everyone can openly access it. Such issues have to be addressed quickly and assertively as medicine is integral to ensure a country’s growth.

Author: Alexandra Stepien

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