Budget 2021 Expectations for Health: Covid pandemic may turn out to be a blessing in disguise as the Narendra Modi government is likely to increase Union Budget allocation to public healthcare multifold. Economic Survey 2021, which has been tabled at Parliament, has “strongly recommended” an increase in public health spending from one per cent to 2.5 per cent or 3 per cent of India’s Gross domestic product (GDP). The Economic Survey 2021 has also suggested that increased healthcare spending can reduce out-of-pocket expenditure from 65 per cent to 35 per cent of overall healthcare spend bringing much-needed relief for the common man.
Economic Survey 2021 has underscored that healthcare will be under the spotlight in Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget 2021 speech. In its recommendations for Budget 2021, the Economic Survey 2021 has stated that health infrastructure must be agile and emphasis should remain on National Health Mission. Apart from these, telemedicine is needed to be harnassed to the fullest, the Economic Survey 2021 noted.
“Increase in public healthcare spend from 1 per cent to 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent of GDP can decrease Out of Pocket Expenditure from 65 per cent to 35 per cent of overall healthcare spend,” the Economic Survey 2021 stated.
Economic Survey 2021 has stressed that there is a need for better regulation of health care. Economic Survey 2021 has also pointed out issues pertaining to private and government-run hospitals in the country.
Private hospitals in India charge much higher for the same treatment, as compared to government hospitals. However, higher charges levied by private hospitals do not necessarily ensure a higher quality of care, as readmission rates show, the Economic Survey 2021 stated. Patients rely on the reputation of the hospital or doctor as a proxy for quality. Public sector patients get re-admitted to the same hospital 64 per cent of the time versus 70 per cent for private hospitals, the Economic Survey 2021 pointed out.
The Economic Survey 2021 has pitched for the complete adoption of telemedicine for meeting the last-mile challenges of healthcare delivery in the country citing that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has helped showcase the role of technology-enabled platforms, such as eSanjeevani, as an alternate distribution channel for remote delivery of healthcare services.
As telemedicine depends crucially on internet connectivity, and health infrastructure and a number of telemedicine consultations correlate strongly with the internet penetration in a region, both Central and the State governments have been advised to ensure investments in telemedicine on a mission mode to complement the government’s Digital Health Mission and thereby enable greater access to the masses, the Economic Survey 2021 noted.