Budget 2018: Accord national priority status to healthcare, says Apollo Hospitals MD Suneeta Reddy

New Delhi: Giving national priority status to healthcare and adoption of universal health insurance are some of the important steps required to boost healthcare delivery in the country, Apollo Hospitals said on Monday.

The Budget must acknowledge that quality of healthcare delivery is non-negotiable, it said in a statement.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the Budget in Parliament on 1 February.

 Budget 2018: Accord national priority status to healthcare, says Apollo Hospitals MD Suneeta Reddy

Representational image. AFP.

"By according National Priority Status for healthcare, the government can signal its intent to put in place an enabling environment that will attract capital - both financial and intellectual, and stimulate the creation of high-quality capacity," Apollo Hospitals MD Suneeta Reddy said.

Several approaches in combination can be used for this – in public-private partnership (PPP) models, or purely by incentivising the private sector with carefully structured tax benefits, she added.

Joining other industry players in the sector, Reddy said: "The payer problem demands urgent attention – we urge the government to adopt Universal Health Insurance at viable rates for all players, and to incentivise the consumers through higher tax deductions for healthcare expenditure and insurance payments".

Zero rating of health care services and health care insurance premiums under the GST regime would be most important to ensure that the cost of care remains protected for the consumer, she added.

"The public sentiment in India should understand that quality care demands heavy investment of capital, and more importantly, skilled manpower, both of which are in short supply, leading to an acute crisis in healthcare delivery," Reddy said.

It is critical that all stakeholders – the public, government and the private sector come together now to create a partnership of trust, which empowers the private sector to create and build capacity, she added.

For full coverage of Union Budget 2018 click here.

Updated Date: Jan 22, 2018 17:27:19 IST