Budget 2023-24 Expectation: Govt must incentivise preventive health check-ups to cut future medical expenses

Representational image. PTI

In order to encourage preventive health check-ups, the Union Budget must increase the deduction limit to Rs 25,000 for a family from the prevailing Rs 5,000 per family and reduce future medical expenses.

According to World Health Organisation, a large percentage of diseases can be prevented and controlled with regular assessment and thereby reducing their odds as also pre-mature death more effectively.

Young working professionals between 30-60 years are at increased risk of developing lifestyle diseases as a fallout of unhealthy choices, stress, and sleep deprivation. These can be identified before they progress to critical levels that require expensive treatments and burden the overall healthcare system.

For instance, cardiac arrest is a result of the gradual accumulation of cholesterol in blood vessels, which can be identified with regular health check-ups and corrective changes in the diet can be made to reduce fat intake.

Similarly, the rising incidence of abdominal cancers and other such cancers were seen among patients between 25-50 years of age group across the world too can be identified with regular diagnosis.

According to one study released over a decade back, the total economic impact of premature death and disability from cancer worldwide was $895 billion, which represented 1.5 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) then.

From an Indian perspective, it is feared that this could substantially impact the productive capacity of Asia’s third-largest economy and hence needs fiscal intervention as treatment options, if diagnosed at a later stage, are limited and largely ineffective.

Tax rebates in preventive healthcare expenditure

The need for fiscal intervention by way of tax rebates in preventive healthcare expenditures stems from the fact that India spends just over 3 percent of its GDP or as per its allocation in the last budget around Rs 86,200 crore.

An increased budget allocation for healthcare should also focus on comprehensive health check-ups like in Japan called Ningen Dock which was developed along with its universal health insurance system.

Currently, under Section 80D, an individual in India is allowed to claim a deduction of Rs 25,000 by way of health insurance premium within which Rs 5,000 is allowed for preventive health check-ups. There is a need to increase this limit of Rs 5,000 keeping the overall preventive healthcare expenditure in mind.

The writer is a Gastro Intestinal and Hepato-Pancreatico-Biliary Surgeon at Fortis Hospital, Jaipur; and founder of Abdominal Cancer Trust. He tweets @Sundeepjain1970 Views expressed are personal

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