Health Budget 2016: A mere eyewash?

Health Budget 2016The much awaited Union budget 2016-17 is here. FM Arun Jaitley has announced that the government will set up 3000 new drug stores across the country to handle the shortage of drugs, especially in rural areas.He has also provided health insurance of up to Rs 1 lakh per family.

Another important announcement was about the launch of National Dialysis Programme to deal with the high costs involved in renal dialysis processes.Banner-280120As part of the programme, every district hospital will have facilities of renal dialysis. Jaitley also added in his budget speech that dialysis equipment will be exempt from customs duty, fully or partially.

Here’s what the health industry has to say:

Dr. Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group

With specific focus on improving the livelihood of India’s soul, its rural population, the Union Budget 2016-17 seems to be aimed at putting more money in the hands of the citizens.

Three specific initiatives that I think will go a long way in creating an educated, healthier and stronger India are the government’s aim to double income of farmers in five years; new initiatives to increase irrigation access, and its objective to skill 1-crore youth in the next three years. On the other hand, healthcare has finally taken the center stage in the Budget.

The Health Protection Scheme of Rs 1 lakh to cover unforeseen illness in poor families with an additional Rs 30,000 for senior citizens is a long-awaited and welcome step in deepening access.

In addition, the government’s plan to add 3,000 pharmacies under the Jan Aushadhi Yojana to provide generic drugs at affordable rates is a commendable move.

Moreover, the announcement of a National Dialysis Services Programme could not have come at a better time, given the burgeoning growth of non-communicable diseases.

According to the Finance Minister, the programme will be made available in all district hospitals on a public-private partnership model and on behalf of all the healthcare private sector providers, we welcome this endeavour.

As always, the health sector in the country will be happy to partner with the government to ensure a healthier India.

Mr. Anjan Bose, Secretary General, NATHEALTH

The 15% increase in government spending on the social sectors with focus on healthcare should go a long way in ensuring universal health coverage.

It is promising to note that the Government intends to provide health insurance coverage to under privileged class through the new Health Protection Scheme of Rs 1 lakh to cover unforeseen illness in poor families.

This should also act as a catalyst for investment in healthcare sector and help in improving affordability and accessibility of quality healthcare.

This is all the more important considering that nearly 75% of India population is currently without any health insurance.

Further, announcement of National Dialysis Service programme is yet another welcome measure for the health sector.

The industry could have a major role to play in this as the programme would be carried out in PPP mode in district hospitals.

Exemption of custom duty on dialysis equipment would further support this commendable programme.

However, the health care industry is concerned since the Government has not addressed the issue of recent increase in import duty on medical equipment and devices.

The medical technology sector is in an infancy stage with manufacturing limited to less complex devices. More than 75% of medical equipment / devices are still imported and hence the duty increase will result in increase in healthcare cost.

Healthcare sector was also looking forward to positive response from the government to its recommendations of Exempting of Healthcare Services from GST, Increase of tax holiday for establishing healthcare facilities from the current period of five to ten years in non-metros, Increase in Tax Exemption on Preventive Health checkup and setting up of a healthcare infrastructure fund as well as a medical innovation fund.

Dr. Om Manchanda, CEO, Dr. Lal PathLabs

The Union Budget 2016 proposal for healthcare covering weaker section of the society is a path-breaking step.

The proposed health coverage is essential to bring the poor under the healthcare umbrella.

The budget also proposes setting up 3000 medical stores under Prime Minister’s Jan Aushadhi Yojana which is first of its kind initiative at such a scale.

For these initiatives to reach the poor, successful implementation will be important.

Dr. PM Bhujang, President, Association of Hospital

Out of the nine pillars of Union Budget, one was social healthcare. The major highlight in healthcare sector was the introduction of National Dialysis Programme.

Also, the government has announced an exemption on basic dialysis equipment from custom duty, which is in line with AOH’s recommendation.

However, the government should also consider exemption of custom duty on critical medical equipment.

Another important announcement was for the opening of new medical stores with better quality and affordable medicines for common man.

This proposal will help to reduce the overall healthcare expenditure for the public in general. However, the quality of the medicines should be ensured.

The newly introduced health protection scheme will provide health cover up to INR one lakh per family. For senior citizens an additional top-up package of up to INR 30,000 will be provided. This particular healthcare insurance announcement is a welcome proposal.

In comparison to previous years, the 2016 Union budget seemed to lack lustre in terms of the health care sector. Health care being one of the major concerns in the country, a lesser amount of focus was given to the development of this sector.

Ashish Mehrotra, CEO and MD, Max Bupa Health Insurance

This year’s budget takes forward the Government’s clear resolve to accelerate the momentum in the health insurance space and make quality healthcare affordable and accessible to all sections of the society.

Healthcare needs of the rural sector and those of senior citizens have been declared as the critical pillars of the Union Budget 2016-17.

The government has announced a universal health insurance programme that will cover the BPL population.

Given that the category is seriously under penetrated, this will provide health protection to one third of the country’s population.

With this scheme, the existing health coverage limit for BPL families (Rs. 30, 000 under RSBY) has been significantly increased, with the provision of one lakh health coverage for each BPL family.

This will boost health insurance penetration which is currently under 5% and mostly restricted to urban areas, curtail OOP expenses, stimulate industry growth and provide access to those below the poverty line to avail quality healthcare.

Curated from Health Budget 2016: A mere eyewash?

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