Skip to main content

Health care system

The vast majority of India's health care is now provided by for-profit private hospitals, routinely offering standards of clinical care comparable with provision available in more developed countries.

However, with routine private health care come the associated high costs of both treatment (medications, investigations, operations) and care (health care consultations, in-hospital stays, post-operative aftercare).

A comparison of relative governmental investment in health, physician availability, and private expenditure on health between India, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. is provided in the table below, and demonstrates the lack of governmental investment in public health care in India, as compared to more developed economies, and the attendant very high percentage spend on private health care.


  • Governmental expenditure on health (% of GDP) – 0.957
  • Voluntary (private) expenditure on health (% of GDP) – 2.906
  • Physician availability (per 1000 people) – 0.73


  • Governmental expenditure on health (% of GDP) - 6.251
  • Voluntary (private) expenditure on health (% of GDP) – 2.882
  • Physician availability (per 1000 people) – 3.57

United Kingdom

  • Governmental expenditure on health (% of GDP) – 7.591
  • Voluntary (private) expenditure on health (% of GDP) – 2.054
  • Physician availability (per 1000 people) – 2.82

United States

  • Governmental expenditure on health (% of GDP) – 13.974
  • Voluntary (private) expenditure on health (% of GDP) – 3.100
  • Physician availability (per 1000 people) – 2.58

(Source: OECD)

Whilst all major cities across India benefit from comprehensive private hospital and clinic provision, the availability of free-to-access public health care is poor, and the quality of service provision reflects the lack of governmental investment. Many rural areas within India lack even basic medical health care facilities, so health care options should therefore be considered prior to travelling beyond major urban centres.

Due to the scarcity of good quality, widely available public health care provision in India, neither the UK, U.S. nor Australia have reciprocal health care agreements, meaning that nationals of these countries have no access to free or reduced-cost health care provision. The high cost of private health care in India, and the fact that for-profit health care is the only viable option for most of the native population, as well as all visitors to the country, makes it imperative for travellers and expatriates to obtain comprehensive international health insurance prior to their visit or relocation. Aetna International provides the expertise and in-depth knowledge required to ensure that you find the high-quality coverage you need, and have access to the best possible treatment — whenever and wherever it's needed.

Political concerns

India is the world's largest democracy and is a generally peaceful destination for foreign visitors and expatriates. However, certain areas are subject to ongoing border disputes and other political tensions, and should therefore be avoided. These include Jammu and Kashmir, as well as any areas on the India/Pakistan border located away from the official border crossing. In light of separatist violence in Assam and sectarian unrest in Punjab, visitors to these areas are advised to exercise extreme caution.

Aetna® is a trademark of Aetna Inc. and is protected throughout the world by trademark registrations and treaties.

We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. See our cookie policy for more information on how we use cookies and how you can manage them. If you continue to use this website, you are consenting to our policy and for your web browser to receive cookies from our website.