Health sector has high hopes from the budget
Budget preparations are in their final stages. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the interim budget on 1 February 2024. In such a situation, the health sector has special hope that this time the government will definitely give it a booster dose after Corona in the budget. Especially the health insurance segment, because still very few people in the country have access to health insurance.
Since this is an interim budget, ideally the government will avoid big populist announcements. Nevertheless, health is a primary sector where the government has increased its investment since Corona.
After all, what are the challenges before the government?
If we talk about health sector, there are many challenges before the government. Being the backbone of the health care industry, the role of hospitals is very important. In this, import duty is imposed on various facilities and medical equipment, for which the government needs to promote domestic manufacturing and rationalize the import duty. In health, the hospital sector accounts for about 80% of the entire market. In such a situation, it is expected to get a booster dose from the budget.
Viren Shetty, Executive Vice Chairman of Narayana Health, says that the health service sector in India is growing rapidly. To make health care accessible to all, he hopes that the government will present a long-term roadmap in the interim Union Budget 2024-25.
Need to think beyond ‘Ayushman Bharat’
Another big problem for the health sector is the accessibility of health insurance to everyone. Certainly, the government’s ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme has expanded its scope, but its reach is still limited to very few people. In such a situation, the government needs to increase the scope of health insurance. For this, the government can increase the tax benefit on health insurance in the old tax regime. India needs a health insurance model that gives priority to health care.
Regulation of health sector is very important
According to experts, the health sector of the country provides direct employment to 50 lakh people. This is one of the fast growing sectors. The provider segment is now growing at a rate of 16%-17% annually and crossing the figure of $132 billion. On this, Sugandh Ahluwalia, Chief Strategy Officer of Indian Spinal Injuries Center, says that the hospital sector in the country is in great need of a full time regulator. A separate National Accreditation Board of Hospitals (NABH) can ensure proper compliance of the rules for hospitals and health service providers.
Sugandh Ahluwalia said, “The new regulator should have statutory powers. “Government officials and experts should be included in this, which will create a new eco system regarding the health sector in the country.”
Nowadays, the use of modern technology has increased in hospitals. The health sector also hopes to rationalize the import duty on the medical equipment used for these. The government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative is commendable. Prashant Arer, India Head of Enbio Group AG, says that the budget should focus on strengthening research and development infrastructure and rationalizing taxes. This will help the country prepare for an ambitious $50 billion medtech economy.