Union Budget 2018: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the Budget 2018 in Parliament on February 1. The fifth and final budget before the Lok Sabha 2019 polls will be crucial. In this Union Budget, the Modi government will look to address critical issues like agriculture, income tax, healthcare etc. It has been learnt that the Modi government is poised to raise its public health spending by 11% to $8.2 billion which is upto Rs 52,353 crore in the India Budget 2018 next month, according to a report.
In the Union Budget 2017, Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 48,853 crore to the health sector. Last year, the Budgetary allocation to the health sector was raised 28%. In 2016, the allocation to the health sector was Rs 39,688 crore and in the year 2015, it was Rs 33,150 crore, as per a report.
In the wake of upcoming Budget India 2018, the healthcare sector is expecting some major steps to be taken by the Modi government in order to boost healthcare delivery in the country. Last week, the Apollo Hospitals suggested to give healthcare a national priority status and also adviced the government to adopt universal health insurance. The Budget 2018 must acknowledge that quality of healthcare delivery is non-negotiable, it had said in a statement.
But what exactly the health industry wants from the upcoming Budget 2018? According to the medical practitioners, the Union Government’s budget on health needs a certain paradigm shift in the delivery of healthcare services in the country in terms of access, goals, financing and the modality itself.
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The notable highlight of this budget needs to have a comprehensive look at the health policy ‘sick-care to wellness’, prevention and health promotion, financial protection, a stronger partnership with the private sector and raising public health expenditure to 2.5 percent of the GDP in a time-bound manner. Dr Rajeev Boudhankar from Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai, expressed his expectation and suggestions for Union Budget 2018. Here, take a look at what healthcare sector expects from the Union Budget 2018:
• The Budget should make the right proposals in identifying the pitfalls of India and healthcare situation.
• It should acknowledge poor state spending (1% of the GDP), catastrophic expenses people suffer because 70% of their needs are met by the private sector
• Concentrate on how poor access to healthcare pulls down the country and focus on development goals.
• It should promise improved access and affordability of services through a combination of public hospitals and strategic purchasing of services from the private health sector.
• The policy should promise that it would buy services mostly from public hospitals, but should also use the private players to fill in the gaps.
• Government’s priority should be strengthening public hospitals so that it doesn’t need to depend much on the private sector except in unavoidable cases.
• Strengthening primary care will certainly reduce the burden of secondary and tertiary care.
• Budget 2018 should also seek to strengthen the infrastructure, capacity, financing and human resources, and envisage a complete overhaul of primary care.
• It should seek to harness the complementary results of the initiatives by other sectors – such as cleanliness drive, reduction of train and road accidents, and action against gender-based violence – into the new Budget for greater synergy.
• Instead of paying insurance companies, that too for incomplete services, the governments could have used the money to strengthen its hospitals and bought the services from them.
• The most crucial element this year is a strong public health infrastructure. The Budget 2018 should strive to strengthen NRHM (National Rural Health Mission), train thousands of people through it, and improve infrastructure.