New Delhi, January 28: The Indian Healthcare Sector is a critical force not only because it adds to 4.5% of the GDP, but also because it is the 4th largest employer currently and expected to generate 40 million jobs in the next 10 years, which translates to every hospital bed creating 6 direct jobs and 5 indirect jobs. Additionally every employee becomes a tax payer which contributes to the overall economic health of the country.
The Hospital Industry alone is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16-17% reaching Rs 8.6 trillion by 2022 and the overall healthcare sector is growing at a CAGR of 22%.
This sector cannot be treated merely as a delivery based sector and the it presents to us an important moment to shift the sectoral perception and support this sector to grow.
The National Health Policy (NHP)2019 envisages stepping up Government spending on healthcare to 2.5% of GDP and this is essential if India is to meet its targets for better health outcomes and better productivity of workers. The Private healthcare sector stands with Government to ensure better lives for all Indians.
Dr. Naresh Trehan – Chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) National Healthcare Council & CMD, Medanta-Medcity, shared his vision on five key Budget impacting areas that will help to improve Healthcare delivery.
On having a more economically inclusive healthcare insurance policy Dr. Trehan emphasized, “Ayushman Bharat is a transformative initiative for healthcare. As of December 2019, it has issued over 69 million cards. The need is to expand this to have universal healthcare coverage. Currently only around 4% of the population has health insurance and out of pocket spending constitutes 86% of total healthcare spending.”
He suggested that private sector insurance could contribute to this effort with a range of insurance products. This would give beneficiaries a choice to select the tailored insurance depending on their particular situation. Just like in telecom, there could be portability of policies.
“The model that looks most likely to emerge will be a collaborative one, between the Private and Public, where a basic vanilla package of Health Cover can be provided with attractive top up options for everyone who can afford to pay more premium,” Dr. Trehan added.
Noticing that while government has made notable progress on the SDGs for infant and maternal mortality, last-mile connectivity still remains a challenge in the way of achieving the target, Dr Trehan envisaged, “ASHA workers are already working on nutrition and healthcare and are strongly connected to the community. With better skills, they could deliver basic nursing care to pregnant and lactating mothers and infants as also help to provide immunisation, etc. It is necessary to upskill them and also to offer incentives for more women to come forward to participate as ASHA workers and helpers.”
“There are 1.3 crore Anganwadi workers and 1.1 crore helpers reaching out to 9 crore children. Honorarium is low at Rs 2000 per month. Increasing allocations to these schemes could greatly benefit hundreds of millions of children and women,” Dr. Trehan further pointed out.
While stressing on a larger role of major players in India Inc. in healthcare, he proposed, “Private sector could also be attracted to set up wellness centres in districts through an appropriate public private partnership model. Telemedicine outreach can be expanded with facilities being set up in wellness centres for connect to larger hospitals.”
While suggesting expansion in healthcare facilities, he suggests to have a dedicated Healthcare Infrastructure Fund with contributions from Government and corporates to support setting up such hospitals.
“It is important to have more hospitals in tier 2 and 3 towns offering 50-100 bed facilities,” Dr. Trehan suggested.
While recommending two immediate policy measures that could help improve hospital investments, he proposed, “The first is zero rating of GST instead of exempt status. which would enable hospitals to pass-through input tax credit to patients. Second is infrastructure status to healthcare sector for lowering cost of credit and obtaining credit for longer term.”