India’s healthcare spending is abysmally low even by developing world standards. One way of looking at it is the improvement over the years (see chart) but even at 1.28 percent of GDP in 2017-18, it’s woefully falling short. The NDA government has publicly said it would like this level to increase to 2.5 percent of GDP, which is also relatively low, but even that looks like a tough task.
This year’s Budget will show if the government will be able to put its money where its mouth is. Ayushman Bharat, the government’s free hospitalisation insurance scheme for the poor, is getting a lot of publicity. While this is one aspect, the funds allocated to improve India’s public health infrastructure, especially at the primary healthcare level, should also be watched out for. – Money Control