Explaining Caste-Based Disparities in Enrollment for National Health Insurance Program in India: a Decomposition Analysis

Preshit Nemdas Ambade, Smita Pakhale, Tauhidur Rahman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Caste plays a significant role in individual healthcare access and health outcomes in India. Discrimination against low-caste communities contributes to their poverty and poor health outcomes. The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), a national health insurance program, was created to improve healthcare access for the poor. This study accounts for caste-based disparities in RSBY enrollment in India by decomposing the contributions of relevant factors. Methods: Using the data from the 2015–2016 round of the National Family Health Survey, we compare RSBY enrollment rates of low-caste and high-caste households. We use a non-linear extension of Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition and estimate two models by pooling coefficients across the comparison groups and all caste groups. Enrollment differentials are decomposed into individual- and household-level characteristics, media access, and state-level fixed effects, allowing 2000 replications and random ordering of variables. Results: The analysis of 480,766 households show that scheduled tribe households have the highest enrollment (18.85%), followed by 14.13% for scheduled caste, 10.67% for other backward caste, and 9.33% for high caste. Household factors, family head’s characteristics, media access, and state-level fixed effects account for a 32% to 52% gap in enrollment. More specifically, the enrollment gaps are attributable to differences in wealth status, educational attainment, residence, family size, dependency ratio, media access, and occupational activities of the households. Conclusions: Weaker socio-economic status of low-caste households explains their high RSBY enrollments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1918-1932
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Caste
  • Decomposition
  • Health Disparities
  • India
  • RSBY

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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