Raising of FDI cap in insurance may help pharma industry: Experts

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The hike in FDI cap in insurance is expected to help patients as well as the pharma industry, say experts.

"The hike in insurance investment limit to 49 per cent is expected to help both the patients and the pharma industry. Free drugs and free diagnostics for all sounds potentially promising for patients," PwC India Leader (Pharma and Life Sciences) Sujay Shetty said.

In a big relief to the capital-starved private insurance sector, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today proposed raising the FDI cap from 26 per cent to 49 per cent.

Presenting his maiden Budget, Jaitley also said that to move towards "Health for All", two key initiatives like the free drug service and free diagnosis service would be taken up on a priority basis.

The Budget provisions to enhance both financial and physical access of healthcare for the country is a welcome step, PwC India Leader (Healthcare) Rana Mehta said.

Through broadband in rural areas, telemedicine will increase the accessibility of qualified doctors and specialists and increased FDI in health insurance to 49 per cent will help increase financial accessibility of population, he said.

Opening up of 4 additional AIIMS and 12 government medical colleges will ensure improvement in quality of medical education and is a step towards covering the shortage of one million doctors in India. It will also enhance access to tertiary care for patients who need to travel from far flung areas to reach AIIMS in Delhi, Mehta said.

"Provisions in this year's Budget are indicative of the focus on ensuring that quality healthcare reaches every level of the demographic pyramid. The provisions also aim to address the infrastructure deficit and bridge rural-urban disparity," KPMG India Partner and Head of Healthcare Practice Amit Mookim said.

"Focus on addressing the skill gap via the National Skilling Programme is also commendable. The theme around this clearly reflects the proposition of providing greater access to care," he said.

However, providing industry status to healthcare would have helped, as well as incentives for domestic manufacturing of medical devices and consumables, Mookim added.

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