Union Budget 21: Health sector honchos seek scrapping of GST

Health sector honchos seek scrapping of GST

Health sector honchos seek scrapping of GST


The health sector which has played a pivotal role during the pandemic is looking forward to a slew of sops in the upcoming Union Budget in February.

Bengaluru: The health sector which has played a pivotal role during the pandemic is looking forward to a slew of sops in the upcoming Union Budget in February.

Sharing his thoughts, Dr Suraj Baliga, co-founder, Clinikk, said that it is imperative to provide right incentives to enable people to opt for health insurance proactively, for that the government should drop the 18% GST levied on health insurance.

"The upcoming Union Budget is very important for the health insurance sector as the segment witnessed key regulatory changes keeping the ongoing pandemic in consideration. There is a need for creating more awareness about health insurance which is abysmally low. Additionally, there is a need to increase allocation for the NDHM to accelerate the digitisation of healthcare.

Yogesh Mudras, MD, Informa Markets in India, said, "In recent months, the government has showcased its commitment to improving healthcare delivery models and infrastructure and has taken solid steps to move towards its vision of providing healthcare to all. The sector has performed well all through 2020 while battling the pandemic. We are expecting a healthcare-focused budget which is a need of the hour. We expect the government to especially focus on primary healthcare infrastructure that needs huge improvement in terms of improved access to healthcare for low-income households."

Harsimarbir (Harsh) Singh, co-founder, Pristyn Care - Simplifying Surgery Experience, believes that the government should invest a larger part on preventive health and encourage start-ups to ensure timely disease detection and treatment.

"Our focus on patient care and medical expertise makes us a viable candidate for such initiatives. Secondly, India's healthcare infrastructure is overburdened especially due to limited hospital beds. We expect that with higher tax incentives private players can go a long way in betterment of medical facilities and increase in beds per thousand patients." Singh said.

Himani Khanna (Co-Founder & Director) and Puja Kapoor (Co-Founder & Director) of Continua Kids told The Hans India that the past year has taught so much again to trim the expenses to basic, bootstrap the organisation to keep oneself afloat.

"Despite making all the noises around innovation, a huge number of start-ups have failed in the past one year due to fund crunch, investment deprivation and many other reasons. We as a start-up in healthcare would like to request the government to include in the MSME category to get the advantages which has been offered and to make funding available," they said.

With the pandemic looming large, several private hospitals had to suffer losses as the admissions went down. Since the vaccine is rolled out the sense of optimism to see the economy going back on track is high amongst the hospitals.

Dr Somesh Mittal, MD & CEO Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru, elaborately explained: "The Covid-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on the private healthcare sector. It had to fight a battle on many fronts and recovery has been slow. Due to lockdown and Covid protocols, private hospitals faced financial losses while still continuing to serve the patients. The Union budget should address concerns of healthcare by making special allocations in the budget. There is a need to consider the healthcare industry's burden of low financial performance by providing some relief in the form of liquidity infusion, tax relief and other waivers which will be crucial for the survival of private healthcare players. Government should also come up with certain support measures for healthcare workers so that they can sustain through these tumultuous times."

A Ganesan, Group Vice Chairman of Neuberg Diagnostics commented that in view of the pandemic India needs to reinvent her health system and believe that the domestic players can continue to fuel the nation's health sector.

"In order to make the ecosystem more vibrant and responsive, a few of the things that need immediate attention are: CGHS / EHS dues are not still being paid regularly, in spite of assurances by the Central Government. Besides, the paperwork for submission of claims is so voluminous resulting in substantial hardships. MSME rules are only on paper and even government departments/agencies are not respecting these rules. The Government departments/agencies first should set an example by paying legitimate claims within due dates," Ganesan said.

"Health Insurance premiums, over the years, have become more expensive. To make it more affordable to larger sections of society, the GST on Health Insurance premiums should be withdrawn. As per section 80-D, Preventive Health check expenditure up to a sum of Rs 5000 can be claimed as deduction, but this deduction is allowed subject to overall ceiling fixed. There has to be a separate deduction and the expenditure incurred has to be increased to Rs 15,000 and should be extended to the spouse of the taxpayer," he suggested.

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