The healthcare sector should be kept out of the purview of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) or else medical care would become expensive and unaffordable for the common persons, said an ASSOCHAM-TechSci Research paper.
Currently, healthcare is exempted from service tax and a similar dispensation should continue even after implementation of the GST regime at least for ten year, it said.
“A large number of items like food and other essentials for a common household are being kept outside the purview of the GST. The healthcare is equally important and essential, important only next to food. So, there is a strong case for the sector to be spared the GST,” said ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat.
The paper cautioned that if GST is levied on healthcare services and facilities, the much avowed national goal to provide universal healthcare coverage would take a hit. It also pressed for significantly raising the tax exemption on preventive health check-up under section 80-D of the Income Tax Act, 1961 from current value of Rs 5,000-20,000 in order to achieve the aim of universal healthcare coverage.
The other pre-Budget demand with regard to the healthcare sector includes increasing the depreciation rate on medical devices, equipment from 15% to 30%.