MSP Logo

Universal health care in India: Making it public, making it a reality


The seemingly impressive growth of the Indian economy hides many social ills, one of which is the failure to provide health care for all. The 2012 release of the Planning Commission’s draft strategy for universal health coverage (UHC) was seen as an attempt to address the situation and it attracted considerable attention, and criticism. At the heart of the debate is the proposal that UHC could be best achieved through greater participation of the already dominant private sector, and by scaling up health insurance schemes.

This paper argues for a fundamentally different vision of UHC policy, premised on creating an integrated and comprehensive public health system that prioritizes people’s needs, and on reversing the drift toward increasingly private healthcare delivery. It examines key facets of India’s health care sector, analyzes the reasons underlying its inability to meet UHC goals at present, and proposes public solutions to fill health delivery gaps in a more efficient, transparent, equitable and sustainable way.

*This paper is an abridged and adapted version of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan booklet Universalising Health Care for All.

Amit Sengupta*
Publication Information: 
Occasional Paper No. 19
Publication Date: 
Publication Type: 
Occasional Paper