The Union Budget stepped up plan allocation for the health sector by 20 per cent with a focus on health insurance, which Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced would be extended now to unorganised sector workers in hazardous mining and associated industries.
"The Rashtriya Swashthya Bima Yojana has emerged as an effective instrument for providing a basic health cover to poor and marginal workers. It is now being extended to MGNREGA beneficiaries, beedi workers and others," Mukherjee said in his budget speech on Monday.
He said that in the current year, the government proposed to further extend this scheme to cover unorganised sector workers in hazardous mining and associated industries like slate and slate pencil, dolomite mica and asbestos.
The Finance Minister rescinded the service tax levied on health check up or treatment instead imposing a tax on all services provided by hospitals with 25 or more beds that have the facility of central air conditioning.
"Though the tax is on high-end treatment, I propose to extend the levy to diagnostic tests of all kinds with the same rate of abatement," he said.
However, all government hospitals shall be outside this levy. The total allocation for the health sector has been hiked to Rs 26,760 crore from Rs 23,530 crore last year. While urban family welfare services gave got an increased budget of Rs 203 crore from Rs 172 crore, the total allocation contraception project has seen a decrease to Rs 298 crore from Rs 358 crore.
The allocation for reproductive and child health projects have been increased from Rs 3 crore to Rs 4.5 crore. Routine immunisation has seen a boost from Rs 417 crore to Rs 511 crore while pulse polio immunisation has been decreased from Rs 1,017 crore to Rs 663 crore.
The UPA government's flagship National Rural Health Mission has seen a hiked budget allocation from Rs 2100 crore to Rs 2,356 crore.