Most relatively well-off Indians have got used to the idea of taking out medical insurance policies in order to take care of possible health episodes. It has been a rapidly growing business, doubling in four or five years. The annual insurance premium was estimated for three years ago at about Rs 15,700 crore. This financial year the figure should be somewhere in the region of Rs 25,000 crore. Given the inadequacy of the government hospital system, most people pay the premium willingly, in return for what was initially projected to be a cheaper alternative to going overseas for treatment. There are no independently verified estimates in the public domain, but some 40 million Indians are said to benefit from such insurance.

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