Budget 2017 to focus on affordable healthcare

  • Feb 02 , 2017

The healthcare sector seems to have received a shot in the arm during this year’s Union Budget. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley explained that an action plan for rectifying poor health has been prepared by the government. It was also said that tuberculosis would be eliminated by 2025. A proposal has been given for 1.5 lakh health sub-centres to be modified into health and wellness centres.

Amendment of drug rules

This year, the Finance Minister has given a push to amend drug rules and ensure that drugs are available at affordable prices. One major highlight of Union Budget 2017 has been the focus on new rules with respect to medical devices. The aim of this move is to get investment into this sector and making medical devices available at reduced costs. According to the Finance Minister, these new rules for pricing of medical devices will benefit the common man.

Provisions in Budget 2016

During last year’s Budget, the Government had given attention to a new health protection scheme and also on making good quality medicines available at reasonable prices. The Health Protection Scheme was providing a cover for Rs 1 lakh in case of unforeseen illnesses across poor families, with another Rs 30,000 for senior citizens. There was also a plan to add more than 3000 pharmas as per the Jan Aushadhi Yojana, to give drugs at affordable rates.

Clearly, a lot of attention is being given to make healthcare affordable for all in India. The demand to enhance infrastructure services and make medicines affordable for all has been observed over the years.

Photo Courtesy: Indiatoday.in

The situation of medical health in India

For India as a whole, out-of-pocket expenditure on health is one of the highest in the world. States and Union Territories need to focus more on reducing this since expenditure by Central Government accounts for only 30 per cent of the total expenditure on health.

Senior citizens have received benefits from Arun Jaitley in the form of healthcare initiatives. He proposed to have health data of senior citizens embedded on their Aadhaar cards. This move was widely applauded by healthcare experts, stating that such digital penetration will ultimately be responsible for making affordable healthcare accessible to the masses. The start of this ambitious project will be done through a pilot across 15 districts during this FY.

Apporva Patni, Director at Patni Healthcare had this to say, “This will only lead to better and seamless facilities being made available to the general public who face numerous hassles on a daily basis. Till now, health data in India was fragmented and the Government’s move to consolidate it with the Aadhaar Card is a positive sign as it shows that preventive healthcare is a priority for this government.”

Conclusion: Though it cannot be said that this has been an extremely good Budget for the healthcare sector, there are certain initiatives which are immensely positive, especially the ones with respect to affordable and preventive healthcare. It remains to be seen how many proposals actually materialise once Parliament goes into session.