Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely on Thursday presented Union Budget in the Parliament where he announced a slew of measures to boost Indian healthcare industry. He announced many steps including National Health Protection Scheme to transform the Indian healthcare ecosystem.
We are now launching a flagship national health protection scheme that will cover 10 crore families. They will be provided upto Rs. 5 lakh. This is one of the largest healthcare programmes in the world,” Finance Minister said while presenting annual Budget in the Parliament.
In addition to that, Jaitley also announced creation of health and wellness centres and allocated Rs 1200 crores for the same. With the motive to provide health facilities closer home, the Government promised to open 1.5 lakh centres under Aayushman Bharat programme.
Prathap Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals has welcomed these innovative steps for healthcare sector.
My heartiest congratulations to this Government for investing in creating a Swastha Bharat by launching the Ayushman Bharat programme. Such out of the box thinking was a burning need of the hour and the Government has not disappointed this time. The initiative to cover 10 crore families with 5 lakh per family/per year with insurance cover for Secondary and Tertiary healthcare will prove to be a gamechanger, ” said Reddy.
Welcoming Governments move to boost the overall healthcare and maternal healthcare sector, Dr. Aprajita Gogoi, Centre for Catalyzing Change said, The decision of the governments Ayushman Bharat Program of increasing availability of drugs and diagnostics to reach all 1.5 lakh health centres will be of benefit to women. Childbearing women need to often pay out of pocket for these services in case they are not available. With better availability of drugs and diagnostics and general investment of 1200 crore to overall healthcare is bound to raise demand for services. It is hoped that these monitoring investments will lead to overall improvement in the quality of maternal and child health services and lower infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate, so that we meet SDG 3.2 in the near future.
Zoya Brar, Founder & MD, CORE Diagnostics said, Provision of up to Rs 5 lakh per year per family for secondary and tertiary medical care is a great move in helping prevent families from extreme financial hardships in availing quality medical facilities. Another great move is launching 1.5 lakh healthcare centers. Given that medical insurance penetration is a mere 20 percent in the country, this was much needed. However, we still lack foolproof mechanisms for early screening of fatal diseases like cancers. We should also look into implementing a system for timely and periodic screening as a routine. This space will require additional funding for research and development in newer fields of medical sciences, particularly in diagnostics and therapeutics.”
There are two announcements which will impact the healthcare delivery industry. The Suraksha Bima Yojana enhanced limit of 5 lakh rupees per family is yet to be launched, so the details and capital allocation will only be known when it is launched. However, the intent is quite positive, as almost 40% of underprivileged population would be able to access the secondary and tertiary care healthcare, and this would increase the market size for healthcare providers radically. The second scheme is for 1.5 lakh healthcare centres, where the budgetary provisions are only 1200 crores. However, it may be a good beginning for creating healthcare accessibility to the rural poor, ” Zahabiya Khorakiwala, MD, Wockhardt Hospitals group.
Ameera Shah, Promoter and Managing Director, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd said, “Overall, this has been a pro-people and a pro-poor budget. For the first time, Universal Health Care has got the impetus it needs. I am quite happy with the government’s plan to introduce 24 new medical colleges. That is the only way to address the glaring lack of talent in the industry. The 1.5 lakh centres which will provide free essential drugs and diagnosis is a welcome move and a step towards boosting the Governments National Health Policy. The flagship national healthcare protection scheme which will cover 10 crore, underprivileged families, is a highly commendable initiative. Through the budget, the government has definitely shown its interest in making healthcare more accessible and affordable through the Ayushman Bharat programme.
“Another highlight of the budget has been the focus on fighting the ever-growing hazards of pollution from crop burning, promotion of gas connection in houses using wood fire for cooking, among others. By not just talking about healthcare, but its indicators as well, the government is definitely on the right track towards improving the sector across the country. We truly hope that going forward, the government also has plans for utilisation management, financial monitoring, audit mechanisms and accountability,” she said.