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Healthy Budget For Healthcare Industry

One of the biggest reasons for individuals falling into poverty is a catastrophic episode of illness. Government, through the budget, has shown it cares

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Termed as 'consciously populist', Union Budget 2018 has cheered the healthcare industry.
One of the biggest reasons for individuals falling into poverty is a catastrophic episode of illness. Government, through the budget, has shown it cares.

From launching the world's largest healthcare program to supporting tuberculosis patients, industry experts have appreciated government's efforts to boost struggling healthcare system.
"Undoubtedly, this budget is like a boon for the poor population. The government has also encouraged the citizens in this budget to invest in healthcare policies for elderly in their family by conferred them with increase in tax deduction and hiked section 80-D limit for senior citizens," pointed Dr. Anand Bansal, Medical Director at Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute.

According to Rana Mehta, partner and leader - Healthcare, PwC India, "The government's move to provide a coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family of 10 crore poor families is the biggest scheme of its kind which is in continuation with the trend of the government being a payer rather than a provider in the secondary and tertiary care space."

Another show stealer is the National Health Protection scheme which is also touted as one of the biggest scheme of its kind in the world and increasing the productivity of population due to lower Disability Adjusted Life years (DALYS) lost. "This is a positive step towards achieving the Governments plan for Universal Health Coverage for all Indian citizens," said Mehta.

Also, the government's move to turn 1.5 lakh health sub centers into wellness centers is likely to help in the early detection of disease reducing both mortality and morbidity. It will also help change the current focus from treatment to proactive prevention. "The fact that comprehensive health care including NCDs and maternal and health services fall under wellness centres is encouraging. These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic tests, a need of the hour," said Dr K K Aggarwal, former national president, Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Government has also asked private sector to contribute to these centres though CSR and philanthropic activities. "All this is good news for the healthcare sector and Fortis Healthcare will offer complete support to the Government to make these a success," said Bhavdeep Singh, CEO, Fortis Healthcare.

However, industry has pointed out that no step was taken towards the goods and services tax rates on medical devices, medicine and diagnostics. "These products increase the cost for patients. There is a need to make healthcare affordable for the poor and reduce the out of pocket expenses of diagnostics," pointed Gaurav Malhotra, CEO of European fertility chain, Medicover Fertility.  

The industry highlighted that government should bring infertility and IVF under insurance spectrum. "In India 13% of the couple are suffering from this but only 1% couple are availing treatment as cost is high and total treatment is out of pocket while in most of the countries it is under the insurance spectrum," Malhotra said.

The proposals are still on paper. The essence of policies lies in the execution.

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Union Budget 2018 healthcare