Historic baby steps towards Universal Health Coverage: Dr Rajeev Boudhakar, CEO, Bhatia Hospital
Budget

Historic baby steps towards Universal Health Coverage: Dr Rajeev Boudhakar, CEO, Bhatia Hospital

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The Union Budget 2018 has taken the first step towards Universal Health care coverage, a long standing demand of the healthcare sector.  The Union Budget has given due thought and weightage to the healthcare of India’s citizens.

Following are the big announcements for Indian healthcare sector.

National Health Protection Scheme: It will cover 10 crore poor families and with an average of 5 members per family, it will cover 50 crore beneficiaries. The insurance cover envisaged at Rs. 5 lakhs per family for hospitalisation expenses. This will be a momentous beginning in the right direction of universal healthcare coverage. However, this should also have given coverage on ambulatory, OPD and preventive healthcare basis which would have more comprehensive. Moreover, this will boost private healthcare sector as almost 80 per cent of the population utilizes the private healthcare sector for its healthcare needs. This will stimulate growth of new hospitals/ centres in the private healthcare space boosting employment in this sector and creating more jobs. A word of caution- if the Government does not pay the service providers in time, this would send a wrong signal to the industry at large which can be dis-incentive rather than an incentive in the long run.

Health and wellness centres: The 1.5 Lakh Health and wellness centres will now also cover besides maternal and child care, non-communicable diseases with free drugs and diagnostic facilities. The Rs. 12,000 crores fund for this scheme will boost preventive healthcare a much needed step for early detection and treatment of diseases thereby reducing morbidity and mortality.

Education Research fund: The fund of Rs.1 Lakh crores envisaged for the next 4 years will also include Medical research. This will help indigenous research especially in the field of infectious diseases.

Rural sanitation: The provision of 2 crores new toilets and provision of Rs. 16713 crores for rural sanitation will help improve rural sanitation awareness and hence control water borne infectious and helminthes diseases.

Package for TB patients: The National TB Control program will get a boost with Rs. 600 Crore package for TB patients getting Rs. 500/month per patient for nutrition.

Medical Education: It will get a boost by upgradation of existing District Hospitals. The Doctor, population ratio of our country is very low at this moment and this will get some reprieve in terms of available human resources.

Provision of Wi-Fi and electrification of increasing number of villages will help tele-medicine to reach the masses efficiently in the rural population.

Medical insurance premium for senior citizens: The increase of premium for senior citizens to Rs. 50,000/= per annum will help the increasing geriatric population in the long run.

The medical insurance is an important vertical of the healthcare sector. This sector will get a big boost due to this budget as many aspects like increasing premiums levels for senior citizens, steps towards Universal Health coverage, “Wellness” centres etc are given prominence in this budget.

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