Union on slew of likely announcements and reforms, but

Union Budget 2018: Senior citizens expect cheaper healthcare, health insurance, but what does 2018 have in store?Will Modi government transform healthcare in India: Budget 2018 expectations in healthcareWritten by Ruchi DuaAs Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is all set to announce Union Budget 2018 on February 1, the industry experts and consumers have pinned high hopes for an increase in budget allocation and expenditure for the health sector.In this year’s budget, the top most expectation of this sector continues to be income tax benefit. Many in the industry are also expecting a reduction in the cost of term insurance by reducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the country’s biggest tax reform. As experts feel that since the launch of the GST, the product costs have gone up drastically.While senior citizens are of the view that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Modi government should try to make health at cheaper cost at private hospitals, the Healthcare Federation of India ‘NATHEALTH’ opines that the government should make health insurance mandatory for all people and like foreign countries even India should give healthcare priority sector status.The recent cases like that of a newborn being declared dead by Delhi’s Max hospital and the Fortis Hospital at Gurugram charging as high as 1700 per cent margin on consumables and medicines used for the treatment of seven-year-old dengue patient who subsequently died have already raised question marks on the condition of healthcare in India.PM Narendra Modi has on various occasions talked about healthcare in India. In August last year, PM Modi had said that his government was leaving no stone unturned in providing quality healthcare that is accessible and affordable. “On #WorldHealthDay, I pray that you are blessed with wonderful health, which gives you the opportunity to pursue your dreams & excel,” the prime minister had tweeted. “When it comes to healthcare, our government is leaving no stone unturned to provide quality healthcare that is accessible & affordable,” he added. If reports are to be believed, in the upcoming budget, the Modi government may allocate Rs 5,000 crore under ‘NATHEALTH’. The scheme will be divided into three types –- Kalyan Scheme, Saubhagya Scheme and Sarvodaya scheme — that will cover people below poverty line, within the range of Rs 2 lakh annual income, and above Rs 2 lakh income respectively.As the budget inches close, people have started building expectations on slew of likely announcements and reforms, but what actually is in store will be clear only when the finance minister opens the pandora box in barely a week from now.