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Government must plan to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all

Preetha Reddy     February 20, 2015

The government must lay out a plan to ensure that healthcare does not only become affordable but also accessible to all.

We need to be aware that Indian healthcare standards are now almost on par with international standards.

A conducive environment that will encourage this booming sector to even manufacture goods will play a critical role in healthcare evolution.

Conferring the sector with 'National Priority Status' and encouraging manufacture of medical devices and equipment will steer this sector towards development.

While the introduction of REIT/Business Trust was a welcome move, it is strongly urged that long-term capital gains under this structure be fully exempt from taxation.

The finance ministry could also consider instituting a Healthcare Savings Fund for all salaried employees similar to the PF scheme, which would be tax deductible.

This will encourage citizens to plan and periodically save for their health expenses other than hospitalisation.

It is also important to seek public investments especially in the core sector of infrastructure as there is a rising demand for tertiary care considering the rise in instances of lifestyle diseases.

The announcement of immediate medical visa for SAARC patients was a much needed relief for healthcare organisations and patients alike last year.

Moves like these boost medical tourism and ensure India becomes a trusted destination for medical tourism.

(The author is Vice-Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise)

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