A single heart attack can upset a family budget, says study

A single heart attack can upset a family budget, says study

More than half of Indians without a medical insurance experience financial catastrophe if any family member suffers a heart attack, suggest one of Asia's biggest studies on the economic burden of acute coronary syndromes.

Carried out on 1,635 patients from 41 hospitals, the study says average out of pocket expenditure for a single case of heart attack is about Rs 1,41,000 ($ 2600).

The financial burden hits almost 60 per cent of the families with no medical insurance. Even for those with medical insurance, one-fifth of the families are crushed under the medical costs associated with the treatment of acute coronary syndromes.

When a patient spent more than 30 per cent of annual household income as out-of-pocket treatment cost, it is defined as catastrophic health expenditure. 

Though insurance helps to tide over the difficulties, the latest data from the central government shows less than one-fifth of Indians – just about 22 crore -- have medical insurance. Similar trends due to the absence of insurance were seen from National Family Health Survey results from 15 states.

Acute coronary syndromes are caused by sudden, reduced blood flow to the heart muscle, which are a major cause of mortality and morbidity in the Asia-Pacific region, accounting for around half of the global disease burden.

“In Indian sub-continent, 60 per cent of un-insured and 20 per cent of insured participants, reported catastrophic health expenditure,” said Jitendra P S Sawhney, chairman of the cardiology department at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, who was the principal investigator from India.

The Indian data is part of an Asian survey which looks at the economic fallout of heart attack in eight nations, including India and China. It found Asians on an average spend Rs 175,769 ($ 3237) as out of pocket expenditure for heart attack treatment, which is one of the highest. 

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