Plan panel recommends new cess for health care to all

New Delhi: A Planning Commission task-force has recommended introduction of a new cess for funding its plan to provide universal health care in the country.

Aiming to offer cashless health care to all sections of society, the high-level taskforce on healthcare reforms has proposed the use of general taxation as the principal source of healthcare financing in India, complemented by additional mandatory deductions from salaried individuals and tax payers.

Additional deductions for health have been proposed either as a proportion of taxable income or as a proportion of salary, on the lines of education cess.

The report titled, "Universal Health Coverage", currently under the consideration of the Planning Commission, has identified high private out-of-pocket expenditure on health as a major cause of poverty and asked the government to raise public spending on health and ensure financial resources for the provision of essential healthcare to all.

"The government, central and states combined, should increase public expenditures on health from the current level of 1.2 per cent of GDP to at least 2.5 per cent by the end of the 12th plan, and to at least 3 per cent of GDP by 2022," recommends the panel.

It estimates that financing the proposed Universal Healthcare model would require government spending on health to go up to 2.5 per cent by 2017.