Health insurance providers feel tax incentives to salaried class on purchase of health insurance should be raised. Also, exemption of service tax on health insurance premiums and preventive health check-ups can prompt more people to buy health cover.
Health insurance providers are expecting the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to announce several measures to improve penetration and widen popularity of health covers.
"Insurance, as of today, is treated as a compulsion and not as an essential component. The thought needs to be re-classified. The government can do much in changing this perception and help increase the insurance penetration in India," says M Ravichandran, President-Insurance at Tata AIG General Insurance Company.
Ravichandran feels the tax incentives to salaried class for health insurance should be increased. "More can be done for the salaried class. Currently, if one purchases a health insurance policy for self/spouse/children, the insured can claim a tax deduction of up to Rs 25,000. When one purchases a health insurance policy for parents (a senior citizen), the person is eligible for an additional tax deduction benefit up to Rs 30,000. Given the rising cost on medical expenditures, it would be even more beneficial if they could provide further tax benefits under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act," he said.
Sandeep Patel, MD & CEO at Cigna TTK Health Insurance, calls for tax exemption on health covers. "As health insurance is still not adopted as a necessity for one’s self and family, there is an impending need for further tax exemption. There is an urgent need to provide an incentive for individual and family to build a safety net in the virtual absence of a government-backed social security system and rising health care costs in the country. Exemption of service tax on term products for life and health insurance premiums and preventive health check-ups can help achieve the purpose to a large extent,” Patel said.
Insurers feel the rising healthcare costs require a greater awareness towards health insurance protection. "Rising health care costs has made it very difficult for the general public to have an access to quality health care services," says Tapan Singhel, MD & CEO of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co.
Singhel feels Finance Minister Jaitley should consider mandatory health cover for all employees. "The government should make it mandatory for employers, both in the organised and unorganised sectors to provide health cover to all their employees. Currently, we have an Employee’s State Insurance scheme modelled for the organised sector. However it remains limited to a certain segment of employees," Singhel says.
He feels a national health scheme by the government in line with the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) especially for those from the underprivileged sections of the society would ensure that a sizeable population is covered against unforeseen medical exigencies.