Silvers seek sops in health sector in Budget 2019

Author: admin

Relief in the healthcare sector seems to be uppermost in the minds of silvers on the eve of the unveiling of the interim Union Budget in Parliament. With inflation on the rise and subsequent spiralling of expenses, silvers are feeling the pinch given most of them are banking on their savings to see them through.

Economist and a member of the Public Service Commission P Suresh Kumarsays Government should adopt a targeted approach given the medical concerns of silvers. “We need to narrow our focus further when we talk of health insurance as silvers incur huge expenses on their medical bill,” he tells Harmony-Celebrate Age.

A retiree of the Indian Audit Account Department, Shanmughom Pillai, admits soaring medical costs are indeed a huge concern for him. He hopes the Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme, which has been on the cards for a long time, will finally see the light of day. Pillai also believes retired Central Government pensioners are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to specialised treatment as the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), under which they are eligible for treatment, doesn’t meet the expectations of new-age super speciality hospitals.

Another major concern for silvers is the 18 per cent GST levied on specialised residential healthcare and day-care services. Sailesh Mishra, founder of Silver Innings Group, which runs elder-care homes, says, “Taking care of silvers, who have rendered invaluable service to the nation, is the Government’s responsibility. Specialised healthcare services for the terminally ill and dementia patients should be free of tax. These are necessities, not luxuries.”

Mishra, along with others working in the silver healthcare sector, has already written to the prime minister,finance minister and GST council, seeking exemption of tax for specialised healthcare services for silvers.“Healthcare is not taxable anywhere in the world,” he observes.

The group has also made a representation demanding a hike in pension provided by Central Government, which is to the tune of ₹ 200 to below-poverty-line (BPL) citizens upto the age of 80 and ₹ 500 for those above it. “It would be more realistic if it can be hiked to ₹ 1,000 for those below the age of 80 and ₹ 3,000 for those above it,” he adds.

Though the interim budget might be populist since it is a pre-election one, Mumbai-based economist Priya Desai feels silvers may not get many reliefs as “we hardly count as a constituency”. “Even Ayushman Bharat, the scheme the Government launched with much fanfare, is more on paper. Till now, one-third of the amount promised under the scheme has not been utilised,” she remarks.

Mishra, however, is hopeful that the Government will extend the ambit of Ayushman Bharat to incorporate more silvers and introduce some health insurance benefits, easing the life of silvers.

January 2019