Healthcare in Delhi

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As in most destinations, healthcare in Delhi is divided among private and government-run facilities. Most expats opt to bypass the public hospitals, which are thought to be overcrowded and which generally lack standardised practice and, instead, utilise the private hospitals, which employ doctors and nurses whose experience and training is on par with Western standards.  

It’s generally easy to find well-qualified medical professionals in Delhi who speak English. Furthermore, given the elevated level of treatment and practitioners in India, and the accompanying low cost of healthcare, medical tourism is an industry sector growing in popularity. In this way, many private hospitals are familiar in dealing with foreigners and are more than happy to better acquaint expats with their services and capabilities.

Private healthcare in Delhi

There are numerous private hospitals in Delhi, but only a few that would meet standards that most Westerners are accustomed to. The general perception is that even these hospitals lack the attention to sanitation and hygiene that are vital to a medical setting. That said, there are a few excellent and world-class hospitals. Keep in mind that waiting times tend to be long regardless of the hospital, even after scheduling an appointment. So be prepared to devote a few hours to a hospital visit.
The better hospitals in Delhi are well equipped with modern facilities and usually excel in certain areas, such as cardiology, oncology, minimally invasive surgery and orthopaedics. Otherwise, there are plenty of challenges that need to be addressed in the more mediocre institutions, such as proper accreditation, equipment quality and the qualifications of the doctors. It is best to stick to the hospitals frequented by other expats.
Since very few Indians actually have health insurance, the norm is to pay in cash, with most hospitals requiring a deposit or full payment in advance. Most private hospitals offer options of payment by credit card or cash. Even holders of health insurance may be expected to pay some amount of advance deposit, so make sure to keep all receipts for reimbursement.

Popular hospitals in Delhi

Apollo Indraprastha Hospital
Tel:+ 91 11 4277 5858

Fortis Hospital
Tel: +91 11 4277 6222

Max Super Speciality Hospital​
Tel: +91 11 2651 5050

Primus Super Specialty Hospital​
Tel: +91 11 6620 6630


Medicines and pharmacies in Delhi

There are many pharmacies around Delhi, where drugs for minor ailments are usually available over the counter. Some of the medicines available go by the generic name, rather than the branded, labelled version expats may be accustomed to.
Pharmacies should be able to help customers with imported medicines and local substitutes, as long as one can provide the generic name (for example, ask for ibuprofen when looking for the equivalent of Advil).

Health insurance in Delhi

Although medical treatment is generally inexpensive, it is always best to have health insurance. Costs for complicated or emergency treatment can become very expensive relatively quickly.
A common problem faced with health insurance in India is the lack of transparency and the limitation in coverage. Often expats will opt to carry additional coverage through international health insurance companies, especially if there is a pre-existing medical condition.
Expats can expect the health insurance companies to offer treatment in a select number of hospitals; this selection usually includes one or two of the top facilities and service providers. However, coverage may be limited and the process of obtaining approval for certain treatments may be cumbersome. Be prepared to make a deposit for treatment/services not covered by insurance; this usually includes test/treatments not related to the illness for which the patient was admitted and any consumables. Usually this amounts to five to 10 percent of the bill. It's important to keep all receipts and collect all medical reports if needed for reimbursement from the insurance company.

Expats moving to India with a corporate employment contract are generally offered health insurance as part of their remuneration package, but coverage may be limited for family members.

Emergency care in Delhi

One will find emergency and intensive care services are better in the larger, private hospitals than in government-run or smaller hospitals. Ambulance services are available at most hospitals; however, the services and treatment offered may not meet the standards practised in the West. Furthermore, road congestion can hamper the speed of pick-up, so be prepared to make other arrangements to get to the hospital, if need be. It is a common practice among the locals to take victims who require emergency care to the hospital in private transportation.
It is highly recommended for expats to have an action plan established in case of an emergency.


Healthcare hazards in Delhi

While expats do not need to be worried about contracting yellow fever or polio in Delhi, it is appropriate to be concerned about water-borne, food-borne and mosquito-borne illnesses.

Preventive measures that should be taken
  • Use packaged (bottled) water for drinking, ice and brushing teeth, make sure the seal is intact
  • If not bottled, boil and filter all water used for drinking
  • Fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly with water, then cooked or peeled before eating
  • Meats must be cooked to at least 320°F (160°C)
  • Mosquito repellent should be used liberally (use a Deet-based repellent) during the peak season. It is easy to find cream-based repellents in Delhi.
  • Precautions should be taken when mosquitos tend to be more active. Malarial mosquitoes bite mainly between dusk and dawn. If one is outside at these times, wear clothes that maximise coverage (full-length sleeves and long trousers for example).

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