Union Budget: Arun Jaitley brings healthcare to every Indian's doorstep


This Union Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley trained his sights on two sectors - Agriculture and Healthcare.

While companies and innovators focus on new and improved methods and drugs to better human health, the government is trying to ensure good quality healthcare reaches all sections of the society. To that end, in this budget, the finance minister reiterated his commitment towards better infrastructure, and a higher allocation of funds for primary, secondary and tertiary care.

In the 2017-18 Union Budget, the government had allocated Rs 48,878 crore for healthcare, as against Rs 39,879 crore in 2016-17, taking its healthcare allocation to 3 percent of the budget.

Government’s estimated schematic budgetary expenditure on health, education and social protection for 2018-19 is Rs 1.38 lakh crore, against an estimated expenditure 1.22 lakh crore in 2017-18.

Suneeta Reddy, MD, Apollo Hospitals says,

“The Union Budget 2018 has taken a huge step in making healthcare affordable and accessible by launching the world’s largest healthcare scheme. It is indeed heartening that 40 percent of India’s population will be covered under an insurance scheme. The payor problem demanded urgent attention, and the government has paid heed. If the Flagship National Health Protection Scheme to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families with upto Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation is properly implemented and monitored, we would have taken an important step in creating a Swasth Bharat. Effectively, this initiative which amounts to $800 billion tops even the US’ Medicaid programme which amounts to $550 billion.”

The highlights from the budget announcements are:

  1. The government has proposed a flagship National Health Protection Scheme that will cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families with upto Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care.
  2. The government is looking to set up health and wellness foundations. Jaitley proposed 1.5 lakh health centres, which will bring healthcare systems closer to each citizen.
  3. The centres aim to provide comprehensive healthcare to all - including maternal and childcare - and will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services.
  4. The government has proposed Rs 1,200 crore towards Ayushman Bharat Programme, which will ensure enhanced infrastructure growth and productivity
  5. "The goal is to provide universal health coverage" - said Arun Jaitley.

It will be interesting to see how this will help home healthcare startups, and other diagnostic startups.