Budget 2018 proposes major advances in the healthcare sector

Budget 2018 aims to make healthcare more affordable to India's poor through new health insurance scheme and more medical centres.

2018 Finance Budget - major advances in the finance sector

Finance Minister Arjun Jaitely announced two significant initiatives among several others during the 2018-19 Union Budget speech.

One of them is, the National Health Insurance scheme which will provide a cover of up to Rs. 5 lakh per year to each family in India's economically less privileged population. The scheme aims to cover more than 10 crore families that are vulnerable to secondary and tertiary hospitalisation care, with roughly 50 crore beneficiaries. Currently, the government offers Rs, 30,000 towards healthcare for economically backward families. However, this amount is inadequate to meet the costs of most medical procedures.

Related: Why Insuring your Health is a Smart Decision?

In his speech, Jaitley stated that it would be one of the largest healthcare programme schemes in the world, and further added that “we are slowly progressing towards universal health coverage.” He has also committed to setting up one medical college for every three parliamentary constituencies, and an additional 24 government medical colleges. 

Furthermore, the Finance Minister announced that a budget of Rs. 1200 crores has been allotted for the establishment of Health and Wellness Centres, which aim to "bring healthcare closer to home". In his speech on the vision for healthcare in India, he said that there will be 1.5 lakh centres which would be easily accessible and will make available diagnostic services and drugs for free.     

Related: Medical treatment in India - Can you really afford it? [Infographic]

 

For tuberculosis (TB), an ailment which claims more lives in rural areas, an amount of Rs. 600 crore will be budgeted for the nutritional support of the patients. Additionally, TB patients undergoing treatment will be provided with Rs. 500 throughout their course. 

In the country, district hospitals will be updated to set up 24 new government hospitals and colleges.

How these changes affect you

The initiative taken toward health care is ambitious and intended to benefit many underprivileged Indians. However, to help pay for this, the current education cess has been increased from 3% to 4% under the head of 'Health & Education'. This applies to all taxpayers, which in turn will increase their tax liability.   

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