The healthcare sector is expecting some big announcements from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Budget 2023. The healthcare sector has been a major focus of the government in recent years, with increasing allocations in the previous budgets. The allocation for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the Union Budget 2022-23 was around Rs 86,200 crore, a 16.5% increase compared to the previous year. Budget 2023 is expected to provide a roadmap for the government's plans to improve the overall healthcare system in India.
What to expect from Budget 2023?
One of the key expectations from the Budget 2023 is an increase in government spending on healthcare infrastructure. This includes building and upgrading primary health centers and community health centers, as well as investing in technology and equipment to improve the quality of healthcare services. The government is also expected to focus on strengthening the public healthcare system, which currently serves the majority of the population, by increasing the number of doctors and other healthcare professionals, as well as improving their training and professional development.
According to Mugdha Pradhan, CEO and Founder of iThrive, "The number of people suffering from chronic illnesses has risen in the past year and is projected to continue to grow. It is crucial to support the wellness industry in order to provide holistic healing for the population. Investment from foreign direct investors should be streamlined in a way that reduces tax-related compliance requirements. Currently, the GST rate for wellness services is 18%, which is higher than that for other healthcare services. It should be reduced to 5%, to align with the corporate sector."
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The government is also expected to increase the funding for research and development in the healthcare sector. This includes funding for research on diseases, as well as for the development of new drugs and treatments.
In the upcoming Budget the government might focus on expanding the coverage of healthcare services through the implementation of a universal healthcare coverage system. This includes providing access to affordable and quality healthcare services to all citizens, regardless of their socio-economic status. The government has previously announced its plans to launch the Ayushman Bharat scheme, which aims to provide health insurance coverage to around 100 million families, and further expansion of this scheme is expected in the Budget 2023.
“India has the potential to emerge as a global hub for dental tourism. It is ranked among the top few countries in the number of dental professionals, availability of technical support and quick turnaround time. There is a need for a focused approach from the government to grow the dental sector. Some announcements will help promote dental tourism to raise the standard for affordability and trust among overseas patients,” said Sameer Merchant, CEO, Illusion Dental Lab & Illusion Aligners.
”There is a need for government intervention in pediatric dentistry with a separate budget for patient care. Primary education can help avoid various dental issues and systemic disorders like malnutrition,” Merchant added further.
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"Focusing on this year's significant stories is essential as we cautiously go into 2023. The widespread vaccination effort, which immunised over 100 crore people, was a significant victory for the Indian government. All throughout the world, nations praised this courageous deed. We anxiously await the government's announcement of funds for the initiatives we want it to prioritise this year. Spending more money on vaccinations is one of the goals, especially across the board in the healthcare system. India must have the right tools since the fight against COVID-19 is far from over. Considering the drastically dropping immunisation rates, it also necessitates acting quickly. The government must enact stricter regulations for the storage and delivery of these life-saving vaccines to both the public and private sectors. Additionally, stress the significance of using certified, top-notch medical grade equipment. Once more, they must take into account a more long-term framework to guarantee that immunisations are accessible in India's rural areas," Jesal Doshi, deputy CEO, B Medical Systems said.
Overall, the healthcare sector is expected to see a significant boost in funding in the Union Budget 2023. The government's focus on improving healthcare infrastructure, strengthening the public healthcare system, promoting research and development, expanding coverage of healthcare services, and promoting the use of technology is expected to improve the overall healthcare system in India. The budget allocation for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is expected to be even higher than the previous year, with increased focus on the primary and secondary healthcare. The budget is also expected to provide clarity on the government's plan for implementing universal healthcare coverage and the Ayushman Bharat scheme. With these initiatives in place, it is expected that the healthcare sector will see a positive impact, leading to a healthier and more productive population.
“Nutraceuticals have increasingly played a role in preventive healthcare. More and more people are turning to nutrition supplements as alternatives to medicines to improve health. The government should allow relaxation in imports of nutraceutical raw materials and ingredients because the quality of ingredients remains a challenge and varies drastically from brand to brand. It should reduce tax on supplements to make them more affordable and accessible to everyone- currently, they are subject to 18% GST, which is the second-highest tax rate. More relaxation should be allowed in importing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), the raw materials for medicines, also known as bulk drugs- imports are necessitated to control raw material costs due to the caps by the government on drug prices,” Aman Puri, Founder, Steadfast Nutrition, India's leading sports nutrition brand stated.
“The government should spend more on healthcare- it allocated only 1.8% of the GDP to healthcare in the 2021-2022 budget and just over 2% of the GDP in 2022-2023. The National Health Policy 2017 recommended 2.5 to 3% of the GDP, as did the Economic Survey 2021, which recommended 3%. The world average is 6%. We should strengthen primary healthcare and the health infrastructure to ensure equitable access to good healthcare facilities,” Puri added.