Nearly two-thirds of Indians expect the Centre to increase allocation for health care in the Union Budget and strengthen policies as the country enters the third year of Covid-19, a new survey has found.
The survey, conducted by consultancy company Kantar, found that 66% Indians expect the government to retain its focus on health care in the upcoming Budget, scheduled to be announced on February 1. The survey maps consumer sentiment and expectations ahead of what many expect to be a crucial period for the turnaround of the Indian economy that has been reeling from the impact of the third Covid-19 wave.
Most of the Indians surveyed also hold a largely positive experience with the previous year’s Budget. Two of three respondents said the 2021 Budget positively impacted their household budget. Consumers between 21 and 35 years are also more enthusiastic (68%) compared with older Indians in the 35-55 age group (56%).
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman increased the allocation for health care by 137% on year to Rs 2.23 lakh crore from the previous year’s budget estimate and 118% from the revised estimate last year. A large chunk of the allocation (49.47%) was marked for the National Health Mission at Rs 36,575.5 crore. Of this, Rs 30,100 crore was allocated to the National Rural Health Mission and Rs 1,000 crore to the National Urban Health Mission.
The government also allocated a special grant of Rs 35,000 crore for Covid-19 vaccines as a one-time spend to finance the world’s largest vaccination drive.
The Kantar survey also found that 53% of Indians want higher deductions for medical/health insurance. This finding links to increased expenses on health care over the past two years following the outbreak of Covid-19. This figure is higher among non-metro consumers at 57%.
Commenting on the findings, Kantar Executive Managing Director (South Asia, Insights Division) Deepender Rana said: “As we step into the third year of the pandemic, the public wants the government to further invest in public health infrastructure and other favourable policies like tax deductions for insurance, which help alleviate the burden of medical expenses.”