Health is not only physical welfare but mental and social well being, too. It is very important to have the capability to make correct decisions regarding health. In view of that, health insurance generally and particularly in Covid-19 times is one of the best investment decisions. We must be well-versed with the fundamentals of health insurance. For that, we must not only rationally invest in health insurance but also reduce wasting resources on unproductive and unhealthy things. Ecologically friendly substitutes for the goods we consume will improve both our health and our ability to fight coronavirus successfully. The economic welfare of developing countries in general and of pandemic-hit countries in particular depends to a large extent on their progress in the health sector.
Since health care requirements are subjective, it is essential to make a judicious selection of a health insurance plan. There have been micro and macro-level empirical surveys to know the health awareness level of the masses. It has been found that there is very low level of health awareness in developing countries, even in the time of Covid-19 pandemic, and therefore health counsellors, health insurance agents, and other health stakeholders need to do their bit to raise the level of awareness. We find from these surveys that health awareness is by and large lower in uneducated people. Households generally spend a very little amount of their income on health and governments in developing countries spend a very less percentage of national income on health.
Insurance agencies apart from providing insurance also provide health education on different levels. It is their job to make us aware of the need and importance of insurance in generic form and of health insurance in a specific form. Insurance agencies provide us multiple health paybacks or benefits such as casualty health care, pre and post-natal health care, emergency hospital visits, inpatient health care, etc. Covid-19 has also affected mental health of many people. Insurance agencies also provide for mental health care and allied services, such as counselling. In addition, they offer facilities in times of misfortunes and pandemic.
Investment in merit goods (need-based rather than ability-based) is very important and health is a merit good in which investment promotes not just the health of the individual but the health of the society/ economy as well. It has, thus, a dual role. On the one hand it will help fight any pandemic situation and on the other hand it will improve the quality of life of the masses. Health and mental education should be incorporated in the education system at all levels as it will help improve social as well as individual well being.
—The writer is an ICSSR Doctoral Fellow pursuing PhD in Economics at Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir. [email protected]