Background & objectives: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes have become a leading threat to public health in India. This study examines socio-economic differences in self-reported morbidity due to CVD and diabetes, where people having these conditions seek care, how much households pay for and how they finance hospital treatment for these conditions.
Methods: Data for this study are taken from the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) 60 th round on 'Morbidity and Health Care' conducted between January and June 2004. Information from 2,129 and 438 individuals hospitalized for CVD and diabetes was analyzed.
Results: The self-reported prevalence among adults was 12 per cent for CVD, 4 per cent (7% urban and 3% rural) for heart disease and 6 per cent (10% in urban and 4% in rural) for diabetes. Both self-reported CVD and diabetes appeared to afflict the wealthier more. The private sector was the main provider of outpatient and inpatient care for CVD and diabetes treatment, though the poor depended more on the public sector. Out-of-pocket payments (OOPS) for hospital treatment claimed a large share of annual household expenditures; 30 per cent for CVD and 17 per cent for diabetes. The OOPS share for diabetes treatment declined with increasing income. The majority of OOPS for hospital treatment paid by the poor was financed through borrowings.
Interpretation & conclusions: The considerable financial strain which households, particularly the poor, face in treating CVD and diabetes is alarming. As the burden due to CVD and diabetes increases in India, more households will be subject to these financial strains and unfortunately, the economically vulnerable among them will be the worst affected. While primary prevention of these conditions need more emphasis, in addition, insurance schemes targeted at the poor like the RSBY have an important role to play in financially protecting vulnerable households.