Ayushman Bharat for the financially weaker section took centre stage in healthcare last year. However, the middle class is still at risk! A first step to universal health coverage would be to increase deduction for medical insurance premium u/s 80D for self, family and dependant parents. An enhancement in the medical allowance for salaried employees in line with inflation and a separate deduction in respect of preventive health checks would be desirable.
Declaration of a National Priority Status for Healthcare to support investment like subsidized infrastructure, tax holidays, monetary and fiscal incentives is hoped for. We look forward to zero-rating of GST for the sector, or for normalization of the GST rates for services consumed by the health care service providers at 5%. Reinstatement of weighted deduction under section 35AD of Income Tax Act, 1961, which would promote setting up greenfield healthcare projects.
Given the tremendous potential of Medical Value Tourism, we hope that the budget will show far-sightedness in exempting this income, thereby making “Heal in India” the new mantra.
A Healthcare Infrastructure Technology Upgradation Fund that would provide subsidies for capital investment in upgradation of healthcare infrastructure is the need of the hour.
A healthy India will have a significant impact on the health of the economy, with the potential to spur GDP. We look ahead to a budget which builds a healthy foundation for this.