As in most destinations, healthcare in Delhi is divided among private and government-run facilities, but middle-class locals and expats generally opt to bypass the city's public hospitals in favour of private hospitals.
It’s generally easy to find well-qualified English-speaking medical professionals in Delhi. Given the elevated level of treatment at private practitioners in India and the relatively low costs, it's no wonder medical tourism is growing in popularity. As a result, private hospitals tend to be familiar in dealing with foreigners.
Private healthcare in Delhi
There are many private hospitals in Delhi, but these do vary in standards. While some hospitals have below-par levels of hygiene and patient care, there are some excellent medical facilities available too. 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. There are some challenges 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 payment options 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.
Private hospitals in Delhi
Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital
Address: Sector B, Pocket 1, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg,Vasant Kunj, New Delhi
Madhukar Rainbow Children's Hospital Delhi
Address: FC-29, Plot No.5, Geetanjali, Near Malviya Nagar Metro Station Gate No.1, New Delhi
Address: Meera Enclave Outer Ring Road Near Kashopur, New Chaukhandi, Vishnu Garden, New Delhi
Primus Super Specialty Hospital
Address: Chandragupta Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi
Medicines and pharmacies in Delhi
There are many pharmacies around Delhi where treatment for minor ailments is 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 they can provide the generic name (for example, ask for ibuprofen when looking for the equivalent of Advil).
Health insurance in Delhi
Although medical treatment in India is generally inexpensive, it is always best to have health insurance. Costs for complicated or emergency treatment can become expensive relatively quickly.
Expats can expect health insurance companies to cover 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. 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.
Health hazards in Delhi
While expats do not need to be worried about contracting yellow fever or polio in Delhi, there are some concerns about water-borne, food-borne and mosquito-borne illnesses.
Preventative measures should be taken, including using bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth, or otherwise boiled or filtered water.
It's best to minimise opportunities for insect bites, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. If outside at these times, wear clothes that maximise coverage (full-length sleeves and long trousers for example).
Emergency services in Delhi
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, but the services and treatment offered may vary in standards. Road congestion can also hamper response times, so expats should be prepared to make other arrangements to get to the hospital if need be. It is a common practice among locals to take those who require emergency care to the hospital in a private vehicle.
India's national emergency number is 112, and to call an ambulance, 102. Contact details for private emergency services are available on hospital websites.
►For an overview of the Indian healthcare system, see Healthcare in India
"Coming from a country with an okay-ish public health system and ridiculously expensive private clinics, I was pleasantly surprised by India’s private clinics (at least in the big cities). India is one of the rare examples where health privatisation brought more competition and lower prices. The prices for medicines were also surprisingly affordable." Read more of Daniel's takes on living in Delhi in his interview with Expat Arrivals.
Are you an expat living in Delhi?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Delhi. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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