After the COVID pandemic hit the world three years ago, the healthcare sector has become central to the 2023 budget as the industry awaits the Center’s intervention to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all.
The Union Budget for 2023-24 is scheduled to be presented in Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1. As per experts, the healthcare sector needs commercially low capital-intensive projects at district and taluka levels to address large patient volumes and access affordable pricing for quality services. The healthcare industry is eagerly waiting, as the experts believe that the government should enhance its budgetary support for increasing healthcare and insurance penetration following the pandemic.
Karan Rathore, vice chairman of the Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC), told IANS, “In cognizance of the impact of the pandemic on the services sector, especially medical tourism, and the healthcare sector, the industry expects innovative ideas to augment and accelerate engagement.” To accelerate the healthcare sector and position India as a wellness destination globally with reliable and credible healthcare, the budget needs to provide and enable an eco-system for growth both economic and technological”.
“Tourism policies and provisions, including facilitation of visas, infrastructure development, connectivity, etc., need to be the focus, but the inclination should be towards the digitalization of the sector by making it more customer-centric and easily accessible for all,” the SEPC Vice Chairman said.
Recently, speaking at the Health Working Group of the G20 India meeting, Dr. V.K. Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, said that Medical Value Travel (MVT) plays a crucial role in eliminating healthcare disparities across the globe, and through the first Health Working Group meeting, the G20 India Presidency aims to create pathways to bridge this gap. “There is a great opportunity for utilizing traditional medical practices like Ayurveda in the Medical Value Travel sector, which is witnessing a combined annual growth rate of over 23 percent,
Rajeev Taneja, the founder of Global Care, said that the medical tourism sector has suffered a series of setbacks in the last two years, and the industry expects government support for the sector’s recovery. “Facilities, including visa approvals and ease of access, a repository for accessing information, and infrastructure development in not just the metropolises but pan India as well for pre- and post-treatment care, are a few important steps that need to be accommodated in the budget.” These will help boost investment and incentivize the industry, particularly in Tier 2 cities across the country
Health experts believe that there is a need to make sure that the facilities and treatments are up to par with the international standard, and a favorable budget will help with the same.
Underscoring the need for healthcare investment in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, Prateek Ghosal, Chief Strategy Officer, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, said, “In order to attract more private sector investment in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities of India, healthcare should be given infrastructure status, which will enable access to low-cost funding as well as provide tax benefits, further reducing input costs.” While during the COVID-19 pandemic, the RBI incentivized liquidity for emergency healthcare services by the extension of credit under priority-sector classification, this move should be made permanent, particularly for projects focused on creating infrastructure in Rural India,
“With the recent Covid experience at the back of minds, the healthcare industry expects a technology revolution in the sector, along with accessibility, easy availability, and affordability. Accessibility to quality healthcare has been a big issue in India, especially in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. We hope the upcoming budget has some provisions regarding opening more tertiary care hospitals in underserved or remote areas,