'Funds should be allocated for emergency healthcare'

There should be a separate allocation of funds for emergency healthcare, says Nivesh Khandelwal

Credit: iSTOCK image

By Nivesh Khandelwal

While public expenditure on healthcare has increased in absolute terms from Rs 72,000 crores to Rs 2.13 lakh crore, it has still not kept pace with WHO standards for public health expenditure as a percentage of GDP. The government should aim to increase the expenditure as % of GDP by 0.25 basis points every year. Notably, the hospitalisation expenses are lower in certain states like Delhi and Karnataka as compared to other states. The Government needs to set up a task force to assess how to bring down the cost of healthcare without penalising service providers for the same. Successful schemes like Delhi Arogya Kosh could be implemented across other states too.

 In India, 70% of the total healthcare expenditure is out of pocket expenditure and 5 crore people are pushed below the poverty line due to the burden of healthcare expenditure. This is something that the policymakers must ponder over and seek collaboration from players working in the domain. One of the solutions that we are providing is to convert your out-of-pocket expenditure into easy EMIs with zero % rate of interest for 12 months.

With the Union Budget 2020-21 coming up, the medical health financing industry has a few recommendations to make:

The budget for the Centre's flagship health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY) was Rs 6,400 crore earmarked in the budget 2019-20. While this is a great step by the government towards its vision of universal health coverage, this amount is not sufficient to make this scheme a success as it would cause major delays in payments and would be un-viable for any insurance company to participate in.

There should be a separate allocation of funds for emergency healthcare, for access to quality healthcare, especially for the weaker sections of the society. Here, the Government must invite investments and support start-ups, which can help in making primary healthcare more accessible in smaller towns and villages.

To encourage small and genuine players in healthcare financing, the govt. must look at incentivising start-ups addressing affordability and access in smaller towns.

(The writer is the CEO and Founder CareCover)