February 2018
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Budget for Sustainable Development

By Siddhartha Bhattacharya, Country Director, India, ACCESS Health International

I welcome the Union Budget, which has announced the provision of health insurance of up to Indian Rupees One Hundred Thousand (INR 100,000) per family, with an additional top up of Indian Rupees thirty thousand (INR 30,000) applicable for senior citizens. While it is heartening to know that the Government will focus on reducing both out of pocket and catastrophic medical expenditure, we hope similar attention will be paid to primary dare and preventive packages under this announcement. These are also a source of out of pocket expenditure.

Provision of free preventive and primary care forms the backbone of a successful universal health coverage model. Health insurance coverage that goes beyond a pure hospitalization program and takes into account investment in essential and cost effective interventions, such as preventive and primary care activities, demonstrates value for money of scarce financial and human resources.

Additionally, the announcement of a National Dialysis Service to address the high costs involved in renal dialysis and the opening of three thousand Jan Aushadhi stores across the country are a step forward toward providing improved health benefits to all, especially the economically weak strata of the population.

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