|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2015 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 198-199
An eagle's eye on "Union Health Budget 2015-2016" in India
Praveen Gadde1, Akkaloori Anitha2, Shakeel Anjum3
1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Vishnu Dental College, Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Mallareddy Dental College, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
3 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Sri Sai College of Dental Surgery, Vikarabad, Telangana, India
|Date of Web Publication||18-Jun-2015|
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Vishnu Dental College, Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Gadde P, Anitha A, Anjum S. An eagle's eye on "Union Health Budget 2015-2016" in India. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2015;13:198-9
|How to cite this URL:|
Gadde P, Anitha A, Anjum S. An eagle's eye on "Union Health Budget 2015-2016" in India. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Jun 6];13:198-9. Available from: http://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2015/13/2/198/159071
The Union Budget presented by Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley on 28 th February 2015 in the Indian parliament has allocated INR 33,000 crores for health.  In spite of the much talked about implementation of Universal Health Coverage (as advised by World Health Organization), the money allocated for health was a way lower than what has been proposed in the previous budget. , The budgetary allocation decreased by 5.7% as in the last fiscal it stood at INR 35,163 crores.  The irony of the budget allocation in India is that, out of the total budget, the amount that is dedicated to health is very meager. India, Asia's third-largest economy allocated only 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) for health related expenditures, whereas other smaller Southeast Asian countries with smaller populations allocate nearly the same amount or more for health-related activities. For example, Maldives, China, and United States are spending 10.81%, 5.4%, and 17.9% of its GDP on health-related activities. Health has not received adequate attention and allocation in the budget. 
Second, the recent budget allocation concentrated on providing more funds for building newer tertiary care hospitals like All India Institute of Medical Sciences in various states to improve the public health system in the country. Though the decision got big applause from different corners, it is essentially ill-advised. The reason is simple as these institutes only provide tertiary care services neglecting the great burden of primary and secondary care needs of our countrymen. If this side is overlooked, the health status of the community and a country as a whole would continue to deteriorate. 
Finance Minister while presenting the Union Budget for 2015-2016 raised the limit of tax deduction in health insurance premium. According to this step, health insurance premiums up to INR 25,000 will be subject to tax deductions, from INR 15,000 earlier. For senior citizens, the limit is increased to INR 30,000 from INR 20,000.  The announcement of various mechanisms in expanding the healthcare insurance to the needy is a laudable step toward making healthcare affordable and accessible to all, he added. This step does not mean a thing for most of the nation. This is simply because many Indians do not even earn enough to be accepted as creditworthy for paying income tax. Then one can say that this is targeted at the middle class. The incentives to health insurance will only benefit the private health insurers and private hospitals and are the source of revenue generators for them. Evidence clearly indicates that there is uncontrolled corruption in publicly funded health insurances schemes, which provide for reimbursement of services in private hospitals.  Interestingly, all nations, which have followed a health insurance model have paid a very heavy price.  This is what has happened in United States and India should definitely not intend to replicate a failed model. The stated goal should be Universal Health Coverage and not Universal Health Insurance.
The first prime concern to achieve Universal Health Coverage and stated health goals, therefore, should be an immediate allocation of 5% of GDP for public health expenditure. There should be priority funding for programs targeting at preventive and promotive aspects of health. Engagement of the public in priority setting in health care is in keeping with the ideals of a democracy. Setting priorities in health care means allocating limited resources so that priority programs are supported and others are not.  There should be exacting set of laws for private hospitals and health insurance companies including provision for audits to hold back unethical financial practices (false billing by private hospitals, differential prices for same medical treatments, and investigations between insured and noninsured patients) and nonevidence based medical practice (unnecessary investigations, interventions).  Whistleblower Protection and Incentives Act for exposing financial irregularities in the health sector are needed at this hour.
| References|| |
Union Health Budget; 2015-16. Available from: http://www.india.gov.in/spotlight/union-budget-2015-16. [Last cited on 2015 Apr 14].
Bhaumik S. Misplaced priorities in the union health budget 2015. J Family Med Prim Care 2015;4:174-6.
Patel V, Kumar AK, Paul VK, Rao KD, Reddy KS. Universal health care in India: The time is right. Lancet 2011;377:448-9.
Gadde P, Shakeel A, Parthasarathi P, Monica M, Rao KY, Reddy AA. Public priorities for government spending on dental health care: A cross-sectional study. J Public Health 2014;22:67-71.