Budget 2021: The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns over the health infrastructure of the country and the government's investments towards strengthening the sector. In this regard, industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said in its Pre-Budget Memorandum 2021-22, that the government must increase its investment in health, to at least 2.5-3 per cent of GDP by the year 2025 to ensure affordable healthcare for all. Medical experts and analysts in the sector also agreed that the healthcare sector deserves a higher budget allocation in the upcoming Union Budget 2021-22. (Also Read: Government Must Raise Investment In Healthcare Sector To 2.5-3% Of GDP, Says CII )
Experts also believe that for the long-term, the government must increase the investment for R&D, equipment, and medical infrastructure to support scientific advancements, for developing a stronger healthcare system. Some analysts also pointed out that the health insurance schemes must be taken seriously by the government and come under five per cent GST tax slab ambit from the current 18 per cent, to make it more affordable for individuals. Here's what experts and analysts in the field expect for the healthcare sector from Budget 2021:
Mr. Mustafa Daginawala, Chief Finance Officer, Saifee Hospital:
“2020 has been an unusual year for the healthcare sector as the national focus shifted to containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Private hospitals like Saifee were at the forefront of this critical effort in treating patients at very nominal rates as per the BMC notifications. However, our own revenues suffered as other services were affected severely. Given these circumstances, we would welcome any financial support by the government in the form of concessions in property tax or utility bills.
The pandemic also stretched thin our national healthcare infrastructure in the initial period when there was a rush of patients. It revealed an urgent need for higher budget allocation for the sector. In the short-term, we need budgetary allocation for vaccines at exempted or no cost. In the long-term, we need more investment in R&D, equipment, more hospitals, and in improving the overall infrastructure. The silver lining to this crisis was the much-needed focus it brought to the healthcare sector as the government pushed for affordable testing and treatment for everyone. This budget should reflect these concerns for universal quality care and vaccination for everyone.”
CA Aditya M Agarwal, Partner, Mahesh K Agarwal & Co., and Secretary, Professional Times:
''Within the chain of command of needs and COVID-19, health insurance nowadays is ‘top of mind' and health protection is more pertinent than ever. Health Insurance has gotten to be an essential product and should be slotted in the five per cent GST tax slab from 18 per cent to make it more reasonable for individuals to urge get to quality healthcare. At display, on most insurance products the GST is 18 per cent which pushes the premium to 118 per cent for the end-user.''