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.
The points that need highlighting are-
- National Health Protection Scheme 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 hospitalization expenses. This will cover both secondary and Tertiary level healthcare on in-door basis. 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% 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.
- 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. 12000 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.
- The Education Research 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.
- The provision of 2 crores new toilets and provision of Rs. 16713 crores for rural sanitation will help improve rural sanitation awarness and hence control water borne infectious and helminthes diseases. Worm infestation is the common cause of anemia in rural women and affects the child bearing process increasing maternal and peri-natal mortality.
- The National TB Control program will get a boost with a Rs. 600 Crore package for TB patients getting Rs. 500/= per month per patient for nutrition.
- Medical Education will get a boost by adding to India’s Medical graduates doctor pool due to 24 new Medical Government colleges by up gradation 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.
- The increase of medical insurance premium for senior citizens to Rs. 50,000/= per annum will help the increasing geriatric population in the long run with life spans increasing amongst our population.
- The medical insurance is an important vertical of 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.
Overall, an “adrenaline boost” with a “steroid dose” for the healthcare sector.