People may have to shell out more for availing of some of the healthcare services such as dialysis, pacemaker implantation, support devices in orthopaedics and cancer treatment due to levying of the GST, the Union Health Ministry has said. The GST cell of the Ministry has said this on its website in answer to one of the frequently asked questions on the Goods and Services Tax and its impact on the health sector. However, in reply to another question, the ministry has said that life-saving drugs, healthcare services, and medical devices would continue to be tax-free under the GST.
“Dialysis (5 to 12 per cent), pacemaker (5.5 to 12-18 per cent), support devices in orthopaedics (5 to 12 per cent), and all support devices for cancers except blood cancer (5 to 7-12 per cent) are the services that will face increased taxation due to GST,” the ministry said in reply to the question as to what are the services likely to cost more due to the GST. According to a government official, diagnostic kits, except for those used for the detection of Hepatitis and radiology machines, will come under the high-end ambit of 28 per cent tax and thus diagnosis will get costlier.
As far as medical tourism is concerned, with the rollout of the GST, the cost of insurance, pharmaceuticals and international travel is expected to come down which would result in better prospects for medical tourism in the country. The Ministry of Health has also appointed a nodal officer for the GST and is working to disseminate information to all stakeholders and address their concern.