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  • Healthcare: Tax exemption on Preventive Health check-up should be raised

    Healthcare is one of the most important pillars of nation-building, not just for its contribution to the economy, but for the impact on the health of the citizens, and for its effect on their productivity, well-being and happiness. It is well-known that public spending on healthcare is an important determinant in any country's ability to deliver quality and affordable healthcare for all.

    In India, budgetary allocations for healthcare have traditionally been low. In 2019, the Union Budget allocated Rs. 64,559 crores for healthcare. These allocations and levels of per capita spending are insufficient for the enormity of the healthcare challenge facing the country.

    The government may start spending an extra 0.5% of GDP every year on health amounting to about Rs. 70,000 crores per annum, till 2022 to reach at least 2.5% of GDP as envisaged in the National Health Policy 2017.

    A large portion of this allocation should be reserved for spending on Primary Health and on establishing the 1, 50,000 Health and Wellness Centres that were announced under Ayushman Bharat, which will play a key role in bringing down the disease burden of the country.

    A Healthcare Savings Fund similar to Provident Fund should be introduced covering all salaried employees.

    In order to provide an incentive for health insurance, and encourage voluntary purchase, the present annual deduction limit of Rs. 25,000 under Section 80D should be enhanced to Rs. 50,000 for self and family, and the current annual limit of Rs. 30,000/ in respect of dependent parents enhanced to Rs. 50,000.

    Every year, roughly 5.8 million Indians succumb to heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes. Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, heart diseases and respiratory diseases are expected to comprise more than 75 percent of India's disease burden by 2025. It is recommended that tax exemption on Preventive Health check-up should be raised from the current Rs 5,000 per person to Rs. 20,000 under section 80D of the Income Tax Act

    The annual Medical reimbursement limit set at a sum of Rs 15,000/ per annum under Section 17(2) of the Income Tax Act which was fixed in April 1999, has been merged along with conveyance allowance into a composite standard deduction limit of Rs 40,000. Given the significant rise in cost inflation index in general (70% over the last 5 years) and medical inflation in particular, the medical reimbursement deduction needs to be re-introduced and the annual limit needs to be enhanced to not less than Rs 100,000 per annum.

    Hospitals have a higher gestation period and in this entire period hospitals incur losses due to massive capital expenditure as well as initial expenses. It is recommended to cover healthcare industry under definition of Industrial undertaking under the provisions of section 72A of the Act and accordingly, tax losses of healthcare industry should be allowed to be carried forward and set off against future profits even if they undergo any corporate structuring like, amalgamation or merger.

    With the rising disease burden and increasing healthcare demands due to implementation of Ayushman Bharat, there is a significant need for creating diagnostic infrastructure in the country. The government should consider providing for additional depreciation at 50 per cent for investments made for creating diagnostic infrastructure under section 32 of the Act, specifically outside the metro cities.

    Healthcare was included in the harmonized master list of Infrastructure sub sectors by the Reserve Bank of India in 2012. This includes hospitals, diagnostics and paramedical facilities. Also, IRDA has included healthcare facilities under social infrastructure in the expanded definition of ‘infrastructure facility'. In spite of this, long term financing options are still not available for healthcare providers. There is need for long term financing options for the healthcare sector, as provided to the other sectors accorded with the ‘Infrastructure Status'. Also, healthcare sector should be accorded ‘National Priority' status.

    There are several anomalies involved in the current classification of lifesaving equipment leading to variations in import duties for similar set of products. Hence in such cases, there is a need to revisit the classification in order to make the import duty on lifesaving equipment consistently low or even exempt lifesaving equipment from duty completely to ensure lower cost of healthcare services delivery to the common man. Tax incentives could be provided to domestic manufacturers of medical devices. The Indian market would be more attractive to global manufacturers once tax rates are liberalised along with measures taken to improve ease of doing business.

    Outlook

    In last few years the cost of hospitalization has been out-of-pockets expense which put a lot of burden on household budget. Hence, with increasing healthcare cost the limit for tax benefit should also be increased. Also, higher deduction limit should be allowed under health insurance section for life-threatening disease compared to common ailments. The GST should be removed from health insurance policy as it will bring down the cost of policy making it affordable to the policyholder.

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Flash News 05-Mar-2021
  •  ( 15:55) Shilpa Medicare gets USFDA nod for arthritis drug  
  •  ( 15:54) Sun Pharma subsidiary to acquire 12.5% stake in WRS Bioproducts  
  •  ( 15:54) Indiabulls Housing allots $150 million foreign currency convertible bonds  
  •  ( 15:54) European shares trading lower  
  •  ( 15:53) Asian markts close on a negative note  
  •  ( 15:53) Nifty closes below 15,000 mark  
  •  ( 15:53) Coal India declares second interim dividend  
  •  ( 15:52) Sensex drops 440 pts amid weak global cues, firm crude oil prices  
  •  ( 14:13) BEML appoints Deloitte Haskins & Sells LPP as consultant for demerger of non-core assets  
  •  ( 13:35) The Nifty index holds its 15,000 mark  
  •  ( 13:34) Indices experience intense volatility; metal and bank stocks in demand  
  •  ( 11:34) PVR launches 6-screen property in Forum Centre City Mall, Mysuru  
  •  ( 11:28) Equity indices trade sideways with losses  
  •  ( 10:49) PNB Housing Finance, Yes Bank join hands to offer customized retail loans  
  •  ( 10:10) Heranba Industries lists at Rs 900 per share vs issue price of Rs 627 apiece  
  •  ( 09:52) Dilip Buildcon receives LoA for two Karnataka-based projects  
  •  ( 09:45) BCPL Railway Infrastructure bags a LoA from Railway Vikas Nigam  
  •  ( 09:29) Positive market breadth  
  •  ( 09:25) Nifty drops below 15,000   
  •  ( 09:24) ISGEC Heavy Engg. secures a deal from Shree Cement to set up boilers  
  •  ( 09:22) Wipro acquires London-based Capco for $1.45 billion  
  •  ( 09:19) Market trading lower in early trade  
  •  ( 08:15) OPEC+ extends most oil output cuts into April  
  •  ( 08:09) US stocks drop on Thursday as Powell fails to ease rate fears  
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05 March 2021 00:00
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