The Indian healthcare providers pin hopes on the Union government for a zero percent GST (goods & services tax), to enable patient affordability that could spur rapid growth of the industry. The industry is also keen to see an increase in the limit of tax exemption for premiums under medical insurance cover to encourage people to invest in sufficient health coverage. They also see that the insurance premiums with nil GST rate would encourage wider subscription.
Just a few hours before the finance minister Arun Jaitely presents the Budget 2017, hospitals like Columbia Asia, Vikram and Vaatsalya Dental Care are keenly awaiting lowering of the cost of setting up healthcare facilities via tax incentives by increasing the tax exemption period. Increase in depreciation rates for radiology and lab equipment with additional deductions to accredited hospitals as an incentive to improve the level of quality care for patients. In order to lower the cost of maintaining hospitals, exemption of import duty / customs duty on life saving medical devices and related consumables would give the much needed support.
According to Jagannath M.S, chief financial officer, Columbia Asia Hospitals, healthcare services have played a major role in nation building. In the past few years, it has created jobs and have attracted patients from the world around. We have also seen many healthcare professionals return to India serve here.
Suresh Ramu, chief executive officer & co-founder, Cytecare Hospitals, stated that we expect the government to accord National Priority status to enable the companies building hospitals to obtain greater access to funds for capital expenditure. The government should also give tax holiday for at least 10 years for companies that set up set up private hospitals in Tier III towns and the taluka headquarters. It would ease out functioning of other hospitals if the VAT is removed on consumables, implants, etc. Expenses for preventive healthcare schemes should be tax-deductible up to Rs. 20,000 instead of the current limit of Rs. 5,000 to promote the regular healthcare check-ups.
There is need for larger allocation for healthcare from its current less than 2 percent funding. Dental diseases are a significant public health menace having a substantial impact on general health. Ironically, out of the 1.92 per cent allocated to healthcare, almost nothing is designated to oral health. India also needs a national oral health policy which goes beyond brushing teeth. Over 120 medical conditions can be diagnosed viewing the oral cavity, pointed out Dr Srivats Bharadwaj, founder and chief executive officer, Vatsalya Dental.
For J Sudhir Pai, executive director and chief executive officer, Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru government will need to incentivize private hospitals by way of lower taxes, affordable insurance premiums, increasing manpower in health sector with better education infrastructure along with deductions for medical expenses of at least Rs. 2 lakh for individual and his family.