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Going to live in India is a fantastic opportunity. However, this kind of project needs careful planning, especially when it comes to health!
Taking out the right international health insurance is essential to be sure of traveling in complete safety and to cover any costs you may incur once you’re there, especially if you’re planning a stay in the more remote parts of the country.


  Table of contents

How does the Indian healthcare system work?

India's healthcare system: public and private

Social Security in India

Health insurance in India for expatriates

Health insurance in India for companies

Getting medical treatment in India

What medicines are needed to travel to India?

How to avoid getting sick in India

How does the Indian healthcare system work?


The Indian system is relatively complex. The public healthcare system generally does not offer comprehensive coverage, even for expatriates with permanent resident status. The same is true for the local population, as over 70% of Indians have no real welfare benefits (in particular, over 98% of the elderly have no health insurance). This represents a major challenge, given the rising cost of healthcare.

There is no universal coverage and healthcare systems differ from state to state. The quality and quantity of care also vary considerably by region. People living in rural areas are often less well covered than their urban counterparts. This makes international health insurance essential for expatriates.

Finally, like Turkey, the country is renowned for its medical tourism. In fact, India ranks among the top 10 countries in this field, a testament to the quality of the care available, particularly in the major cities. Expatriates and tourists benefit from a wide range of medical services, from simple forms of healthcare to specialized treatments.

India's healthcare system: public and private

India's healthcare system is divided into public and private sectors:
  • The tax-funded public sector provides healthcare through local governments. Unfortunately, infrastructures are often overwhelmed due to the large number of patients, which can lead to long waits and variable quality of care.
  • The private sector provides a better standard of care, but at a higher cost. That's why expatriates are generally advised to take out private health insurance, to ensure they have access to the best possible care. This should cover both outpatient care and hospitalization where costs can escalate rapidly.

A number of insurance companies offer packages for expatriates, with different levels of coverage depending on the specific needs of each individual. When choosing your insurance package, be sure to check the details of your plan to ensure that all members of your family are covered and adjust your benefits if necessary.

Social Security in India

In India, the Social Security system is managed by the Employees' State Insurance Scheme (ESIC). The country has set up a universal health insurance system, offering free public healthcare to all throughout the country. But as mentioned above, the quality of services varies considerably from region to region.

In 2008, the Indian government launched a national health insurance program to meet the needs of people unable to access healthcare. This was followed by the launch of another national program in 2018, further extending coverage.

Health insurance in India

When it comes to health insurance, several options are available to residents and expatriates in India. Health insurance rates vary according to age and marital status. For a single 30-year-old, the annual cost is around one hundred euros. Local health insurance is also available to expatriates.

However, it's crucial to check certain points when taking out insurance, such as the coverage limits, the hospitals that are included in the plan and the health risks that need to be reported.

Health insurance in India for expatriates

As an expatriate in India, be sure to use the healthcare facilities in your insurance provider’s medical network, so you don't have to wait too long in public facilities. Please note that medical expenses can be significant, depending on your location, especially for hospitalization.

The “Caisse des Français de l'Etranger” in India

For French expatriates in India, the CFE provides coverage of medical expenses, occupational accidents and illnesses, and old age. However, as medical expenses are generally higher in India, supplementary insurance is often necessary.

The CFE covers medical expenses for expatriates over the age of 30 living and working abroad, and their dependents, anywhere in the world, including France. You can also benefit from the CFE if you are retired and living abroad. Note that, with the CFE, you can receive medical care while you're in France.

Joining the CFE is not automatic and expatriates need to make the application themselves. Enrollment is possible at any time of the year but it’s advisable to do so before going abroad to avoid any interruption in coverage.

To sum up:
  • The CFE is an option for French expatriates in India
  • It provides continuity of French Social Security coverage
  • Supplementary insurance is often necessary due to the higher cost of healthcare in India.
  • CFE membership is not automatic and it’s up to the expatriate to make the application.
  • It’s advisable to take out a plan before going abroad to avoid any interruption in coverage.

Health insurance in India for companies



In India, corporate health insurance is a major concern. This is because the Indian welfare system is not universal: it covers only a small proportion of the population (people working in the so-called "organized" sector, i.e. the public sector, for example). This scheme offers limited coverage. As a result, many companies offer their employees supplementary insurance to top-up the benefits provided under this system.
Some insurance companies offer specific health insurance plans for companies. To qualify for a corporate plan, the group must have at least 3 employees. The employee's family (spouse and/or children) can also benefit from this plan.

Discounts are available, depending on the number of employees covered. It’s therefore essential to compare different offerings and understand the details of the plan to choose the insurance best suited to the needs of the company and its workforce.

Getting medical treatment in India

There are several options for medical treatment in India. If you're an expatriate, we recommend using private hospitals and clinics. These facilities generally offer a better quality of care and have up-to-date equipment. They are often located in major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay) or Bengaluru (Bangalore).

It's also important to take precautions to avoid diseases such as dengue fever, which is on the rise in India. Be careful and protect yourself well against mosquito bites during the day (more information here).

Traditional medicine in India

Traditional medicine is an important pillar of the country's healthcare system. India is renowned for Ayurveda, a practice that aims to treat the person, not the disease. This type of medicine includes dietetics, herbal therapy, aromatherapy, massage, yoga, chanting, breathing, and meditation.

There are several other well-known and respected healthcare systems, such as:
  • Siddha, the oldest system of traditional Indian medicine

  • Unani, a Greco-Arab system of medicine that has found an important place in Indian healthcare

  • Yoga, an ancestral Indian practice renowned for its benefits to body and mind

  • Naturopathy and homeopathy, which advocate a natural, individualized approach to health.

This holistic approach to health is widely recognized and practiced throughout the country, and all of these traditional systems of medicine are used by a majority of the Indian population for the treatment and prevention of numerous conditions and diseases.

Quality of healthcare in India

As mentioned above, the quality of healthcare can vary considerably from region to region. In the major cities, there are highly skilled healthcare facilities offering a wide range of medical services.

India is renowned around the world for the quality of its medical care and its competitive rates. And with the development of telemedicine and the arrival of teleconsultations, more and more healthcare services are available online. Be sure to check whether your insurance covers remote consultations, which are becoming increasingly common in India!

Healthcare for women in India

In India, access to healthcare for women presents particular challenges. In this country with its patriarchal traditions, women are campaigning for better access to healthcare services. Initiatives such as telemedicine (offering remote consultations) and mobile clinics have emerged to reach remote and isolated areas, where women often lack access to quality healthcare.

For expatriate women of foreign origin in India, access to healthcare services can also be uneven, particularly in rural areas. However, in major cities, expatriate women can access quality healthcare in private hospitals. These facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and are staffed by qualified health professionals.

In any event, regardless of the medical facility, Indian women and expatriates alike are often confronted with gender bias within the Indian healthcare system. If you find yourself in need of treatment during your stay in India, make sure you are treated by professionals who are sensitive to these issues.

Pregnancy in India

Pregnancy in India presents specific challenges. Despite a large number of public and private healthcare facilities specializing in childbirth and postnatal care, the situation varies greatly between different social classes. Middle and upper-class women are able to access quality care in private centers, while less privileged women suffer from a lack of appropriate medical services.

FemTech is playing a key role in transforming women's healthcare in India, making it more accessible, personalized and empowering. However, the maternal mortality rate remains high, with 97 deaths per 100,000 births.

On average, 83.1% of births are attended by skilled health personnel, but this varies considerably by region. Traditional maternity assistants attend 37% of home births.

What's more, according to data from the latest National Health Family Survey, only 58.1% of pregnant women received at least four prenatal check-ups. It’s therefore essential to take steps to improve access to healthcare for pregnant women in India.

Private insurers often include maternity benefits in their plans (medical monitoring, childbirth, etc.) to avoid any risk of complications and to monitor the mothers-to-be throughout their pregnancy. If you're planning to have a baby, be sure to check that your insurance offers this type of program!

Price of a medical consultation in India

In India, the cost of a medical consultation is generally lower than in the West. Prices vary according to the type of healthcare, the practitioner and the facility.

Please note: depending on your plan, your insurance may cover all or part of the cost of a consultation. Also bear in mind that some insurance policies only cover specific hospitals and certain medical conditions.
  • General practitioners: they are often the first point of contact for healthcare. Consultation fees vary according to factors such as location and the doctor's experience. In public hospitals and rural clinics, the cost may be lower or even free for people on low incomes.
  • Specialist doctors: they offer a wide range of services, from cardiology to neurology. As with general practitioners, their fees vary according to factors such as location and experience. Consultations with these specialists in private hospitals in major cities can be quite costly.

Teleconsultation services are offered by certain specialists at specific rates depending on the type of specialty. For example, a remote consultation with a psychiatrist, neuropsychiatrist or neurologist can cost up to €42.50. As with a consultation with a general practitioner, your insurance may reimburse all or part of the cost of the consultation, depending on your plan.

What vaccines are needed for India?

India does not require any specific vaccinations for entry into the country. However, certain vaccines are strongly recommended to be sure of traveling safely.
  • The hepatitis A vaccine is systematically recommended. An injection should be given 15 days before departure, with a booster 1 to 3 years later. Children can be vaccinated from the age of 1.
  • For travelers coming from regions where Japanese encephalitis is endemic and who are staying in rural areas, vaccination against this disease is compulsory. Japanese encephalitis is transmitted by mosquitoes.
  • It’s also advisable to update certain vaccinations, such as diphtheria-tetanus-polio, hepatitis B and typhoid fever.

    You should consult a health professional at least four to six weeks before your trip to update your vaccination schedule.

    Please note: there are as yet no vaccines for malaria and chikungunya, two mosquito-borne diseases present in India.

    Malaria in India

    Malaria remains a major public health problem in India, especially in areas below 2,000 meters altitude. The risk is particularly high in the eastern and central regions of the country, in states with large forests and hills.

    The Indian government has set itself the ambitious target of completely eliminating malaria by 2030. To achieve this goal, considerable efforts are being made to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. For example, rapid malaria screening is a priority as it can save lives. However, access to testing can be a major challenge, particularly for people living in rural areas who often have to travel long distances to be tested.

    In addition, malaria is linked to migration to India. The high incidence of the disease along national borders poses a real problem for its eradication.

    It’s therefore essential for travelers and expatriates to take preventive measures against malaria. If you're traveling to at-risk areas in India, be sure to use mosquito repellents and wear covering clothing as soon as the sun goes down.

    Visualization tools, such as the METIS platform, can be used to identify areas at risk and adapt prevention measures accordingly.

    Do you need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel to India?

    On November 22, 2022, India lifted all health restrictions linked to Covid-19. Vaccination against Covid-19 is no longer a condition of entry into India for travelers from France, whether or not they have been vaccinated. However, vaccination is still recommended to protect against the virus. Don't forget that the situation can change rapidly, so it's advisable to check the recommendations of the government and Ministry of Health in your country of residence before planning your trip.


    In the event of a medical emergency in India, it's important to know the national emergency number, which is 112. Operators usually speak English, but this is not always the case.

    Comprehensive private health insurance should make it possible for you to claim back the cost of using a private ambulance. You should also be aware that the cost of medical care in case of an accident or emergency, or even a medical evacuation, can be very high in India.

    Cost of dental and vision care

    Dental and vision care account for a significant proportion of medical expenditure for expatriates in India. While some outpatient services are affordable, fees can be significant in the private sector, particularly for more complex procedures or good-quality glasses and lenses.
    • On average, the cost of a dental implant in India varies between 40,000 and 80,000 rupees, depending on the type of implant and the patient's medical history.
    • When it comes to vision care, reimbursements from supplementary health insurance providers vary greatly. Be sure to compare them to select the plan that best suits your needs.

    What medicines are needed to travel to India?

    In India, medicines can be purchased in local pharmacies or online. Pharmacies are generally well-stocked, especially in the major cities. However, there may be shortages of certain medicines in rural areas. If you're planning to travel to the more remote parts of the country, we advise you to pack a sufficient supply of essential medicines, to avoid any problems once you're there.

    India is also the world's largest supplier of affordable generic medicines. It’s therefore possible to find a wide range of medicines at lower prices than in the West. However, always make sure that the medicines you buy are genuine and from verified sources.

    For prescription medicines, you'll need a prescription from an Indian doctor if you want to buy them in a pharmacy. You'll also need one if you want to claim a reimbursement under your insurance plan.

    How to avoid getting sick in India

    Here are some tips and precautions to take to avoid getting sick in India:
    • Food and water: Avoid tap water and ice cubes, which may be contaminated. Opt for drinks without ice cubes and only drink bottled mineral water. Also, avoid eating raw vegetables and choose cooked foods.
    • Vaccinations: Before going to India, get vaccinated against common diseases and get booster shots for the most important vaccines (hepatitis A, hepatitis B, DTP, etc. - more details here). And don't forget the rabies vaccine if you're planning to travel in rural areas.

    • Insects: Protect yourself against mosquitoes, which carry diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Use repellents and wear long clothing in the evening.
    • Pollution: Air pollution can be very high in the major cities. Remember to wear anti-pollution masks and avoid strenuous exercise during pollution peaks.

    If you follow these tips and make sure you’re properly prepared, you'll be able to enjoy your time in India to the full while minimizing the risks. Enjoy your stay!

    Get your health insurance for India

    MSH can help you design the best international health insurance plan to suit your needs.

    Going for less than a year?  
    We have the right health insurance plan to cover you for 1 to 12 months, whether it's for a personal project, an apprenticeship, a working holiday or any other reason.

    Going for a year or more?
    Explore our comprehensive and highly flexible health insurance solutions to protect you and your family while you're abroad.

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