Economic Survey calls for increased public spending on healthcare services

Headlines Health & Fitness

The Economic Survey 2021-21 has made a strong recommendation for increased spending on healthcare services up to 2.5 to 3 per cent of GDP from the current 1 per cent. The survey has noted this can significantly curtail the out of the pocket expenditure (OOPE) to 35% from the current 65% on healthcare.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament. According to the survey, the nation’s health critically depends on the citizens having access to an affordable, accountable and equitable system of healthcare. The survey underlines that the risk of the vulnerable groups to slip into the pit of poverty is increased due to OOPE for health and India is considered to have one of the highest levels of OOPE in the entire world. According to the survey, the countries with fragmented health systems show lower performance and lower efficiency, besides poor quality.

Therefore, the government is required to shape the structure of healthcare market actively. National Health Mission (NHM) has played a critical role in the process of mitigating inequity in access to healthcare. It should continue in conjunction with Ayushman Bharat Yojana. The Economic Survey notes that for adequate healthcare to be provided in the country it is critical for policymakers to design policies in a way that mitigates information asymmetry in the healthcare sector. The key findings of the survey reveal that if the information asymmetry is mitigated, it would also help lower the premiums of insurance, besides offering better products.

The WHO has also highlighted the growing importance of the same. The Economic Survey has also recommended a sectoral regulator to regulate the healthcare sector. It also suggests the best practices instrumental in countries like England, Australia, Finland, The Netherlands and Germany must be shared in India’s healthcare landscape.
Moreover, the Economic Survey also highlights the last-mile challenges of healthcare delivery in the country.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has showcased the importance of technology-enabled platforms like eSanjeevani as an alternate distribution channel for the delivery of healthcare services remotely. Internet connectivity is crucial for the success of telemedicine, hence the State governments have been advised to invest in telemedicine to supplement the Digital Health Mission of the government and enable its deeper access to the masses.

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