New Delhi: Indian home healthcare industry has been witnessing massive growth, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. According to NITI Aayog’s report India’s home healthcare market is expected to expand to USD 21.3 billion in size by 2027, from USD 6.2 billion in 2020, growing at more than 19 per cent CAGR.
Despite being called the sunrise sector, the stakeholders of the domain feel home healthcare is still not treated at par with the care provided in hospitals. ETHealthworld connected to home healthcare players in India to understand their expectations from Union Budget 2023-24, which could provide a new impetus to the homecare industry.
The healthcare industry should become a “zero” rated GST category
Vivek Srivastava, Co-Founder and CEO, HCAH: Healthcare, as an industry should become a “zero” rated GST category which will improve the affordability of the services. For out-of-hospital care which includes homecare, it should be treated at par with healthcare. In fact, it should be given more financial incentives so that the access and affordability of care is increased. We all know that hospitals are for acute intervention however that is not the only need of the customer. Additionally, Government should encourage Out-of-Hospital Care services (including preventive care) covering it under the government schemes like Ayushman Bharat, to cut the heavy expenses on medical bills at the hospitals during the recovery process.
Need for 10-year tax holiday for new entrants
Meena Ganesh, Co-founder and Chairperson, Portea Medical: There is a need to boost India’s supportive healthcare system, especially the home healthcare segment which is set to grow 2.5 times by 2025. The potential of homecare was evident during the pandemic wherein it helped in decongesting hospitals, freeing up valuable bed capacity, and offer care when hospitalization was not necessary. By boosting this segment, the government can realize its goal of expanding quality medical coverage throughout India.
Another area where there are measures needed are around introducing standard treatment guidelines (STG) based on local and international protocols. There is also a need for financing of care for continuity and an inclusive care ecosystem, 10-year tax holiday for new entrants. The government must also look at offering tax breaks to incentivize care delivery in semi-urban and rural areas and GST benefits as laid out for institutional healthcare providers.
For the last few years, the budgetary allocation for healthcare has been around or under 1.5 per cent of the GDP. This needs to go up to at least 2.5 per cent of GDP in the absence of which, it will become a challenge to roll out new initiatives, maintain the existing infrastructure, and even running the various healthcare schemes. Apart from the higher allocation, the other thing that the healthcare industry expects from the upcoming Union Budget, is to offer tax incentives and benefits to platforms that invest in advanced technologies and innovative healthcare delivery.
The homecare industry has seamlessly integrated advanced digital care to provide cutting-edge care to consumers where they are. This is where the segment has the latent power to provide personalized care at scale even in remote regions. Supportive policies by the government in this budget can provide the much-needed impetus to this sunrise segment.
Need an insurance scheme to subsidize medical expenses for senior citizens
Rajit Mehta, MD and CEO, Antara Senior Care:
Senior living communities have a very different set of needs which increases the cost of construction significantly. Some of the examples are installation of panic alarms, wheelchair-enabled construction, stretcher-enabled lifts and corridors, anti-skid tiles and so on. GST exemption is not provided to this sector, making the product more expensive than normal real estate, and affecting the decision-making of seniors to invest in such projects. Therefore, GST exemption and custom duty exemption should be considered for senior living communities.
Currently, in India, the fund available to senior citizens is only from their savings, unlike other developed countries, where there are many welfare schemes available for seniors. Banks should be allocated specific funds and be advised to introduce friendly schemes for seniors which would enable them to access cheaper funds for their wellbeing. Also, presently, none of the insurance companies have any scheme for senior citizens. As a result, during old age, a senior’s focus shifts from his wellbeing to saving money for his medical and other needs. There should be an insurance scheme formulated by the Government wherein the medical expenses of senior citizens are subsidized.
Tax breaks for companies manufacturing homecare monitoring devices
Rohit Anand, Medical Devices Analyst at GlobalData: The Union Budget is expected to provide an impetus of confidence to the economy, which should help to accelerate the level of investment. It is expected that the Union Budget will focus on measures to boost economic growth and create jobs, particularly in light of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In terms of the homecare monitoring segment, tax incentives can play a crucial role in promoting its growth. Tax breaks for companies manufacturing homecare monitoring devices can help them lower their costs and make their services more affordable for consumers. Additionally, tax incentives for individuals who invest in homecare services can help to increase demand for these services.
Commenting on some of the measures which would help in boosting the homecare segment, Anand said, “Increasing awareness and understanding of homecare monitoring services through education and marketing campaigns. providing financial assistance and tax subsidies to manufacturers, service providers, and consumers. Implementing quality control and regulation measures to ensure that homecare services meet a certain standard of quality. Price cap on commonly used homecare monitoring devices such as blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, etc will increase consumption. Also, bringing laws to enforce to cover homecare monitoring services by insurance providers and government support to create an enabling ecosystem and regulatory framework to encourage the growth of this segment are some of the measures that can help boost this sector in India.”