New Delhi: The uptake of life insurance went up multiple folds due to the impact of COVID-19 on health and subsequent hospitalizations. The Economic Survey for 2021-22 highlighted that the insurance level in India has manifested to global levels due to COVID-19, bringing the insurance segment to the forefront for the union budget.
Annotating that the initiatives around digitalizing banking and health ecosystem can further boost the uptake of insurances, MS Sreedhar, MD & CEO, Royal Sundaram General Insurance said, “The Union Budget 2022 is all about setting the stepping stones for long term economic growth. The large investments in core sectors will lead to job creation, better connectivity and boost consumption in the mid to long term. The initiatives around expanding the digital banking units as well as National Digital Health Ecosystem, hopefully should help to boost the demand for general insurance by creating more awareness amongst the citizens across the country. We believe with the worst phase of the pandemic behind us, it is now time for the country to get its growth momentum on track and the Budget presented today seems to be in line with that vision”
Highlighting that the budget exceeded the expectations, Mahesh Balasubramanian, Managing Director, Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Company Ltd said that slew of measures announced for various segments in addition to the massive CAPEX plan will help in strengthening India’s economy. Commenting on the budget, he added, “While there are concerns around inflationary risks due to the high commodity prices leading to fuel and food inflation, the government is betting on growth. The fiscal deficit of 6.9% for FY 22 and target of 6.5% for Fy 23 may seem very high but given the context of the global issues post pandemic the markets feel this may be required to spur growth. The intent to stay on the fiscal glide path announced last year gives some comfort. The good news is that the entire excess fiscal deficit is going towards Capex which will have a multiplier effect on the economy..Overall, there is widespread optimism that the FM has exceeded expectations on her growth stimulus, we need to watch out for the global geopolitical situation leading to higher imported inflation and rising interest rates, which could derail the bets on going for growth.”
Pointing out the initiatives still needed in the health sector, Vishal Bali, Executive Chairman, Asia Healthcare Holdings said, “ Budget 2023 focuses on key pillars of Capex led growth, enablement of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and controlling fiscal deficit. If executed well, an increase in the capital outlay of INR 7.5 Lacs crores can kick start the economic engine. The budget is silent on the increase in public expenditure on healthcare and the path to 2.5% of GDP spent on healthcare which is the much-needed reform path for this sector and enablement of healthcare access to India. However, The focus on digital healthcare with the National Digital Health Ecosystem is a welcome move and a national telemedicine-led mental health program with a network of 23 telemental health centers, with Nimhans serving as the nodal centers is also a step in the right direction. However, reform in paramedical education for faster enablement of clinical/paraclinical talent is still not addressed. While the FM led Budget 21 made healthcare a central subject, Budget 22 does lack continuity of that vision.”
Commending the healthcare initiatives introduced in the budget, Vijay Chawla, Partner & Head, Life Sciences and Head, Risk Advisory for KPMG in India said, “The budget reflects a new India moving towards greater mental health initiatives and increasing digitalization for life sciences as a sector. The budget highlights the importance of a strong healthcare infrastructure backed by digital investments for long-term benefits in democratizing the healthcare industry. In one year, with the mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Prayas we have been able to vaccinate the majority of our population, despite holding the second largest population in the world. A PLI scheme has also been introduced in the healthcare sector to reduce dependency on imports. The 35% on-year increase in budgetary support to capital expenditure to 7.5 lakh crore can boost spending on construction of hospitals and healthcare facilities, production of equipment, medical machinery as well as ICT equipment which can foster developments and further strengthen the healthcare sector..The direction that the government has taken is a positive step towards boosting the life sciences sector.”
Commenting on this year’s union budget ,Vivek Tiwari, CEO & Founder, Medikabazaar said “One very critical impact of the pandemic has been on the mental health of people and the initiative from the government to address this growing concern is laudable with the amalgamation of technology, AI, and healthcare as a nation we can win over this silent pandemic of mental wellness. From a supply-chain standpoint, the last two years have been very challenging and as stated in the survey 2022, the government had opted for a barbell strategy to cushion the impact on vulnerable sections, with the covid restrictions easing out we hope for a pickup and recovery in the overall supply chain scenario and an upturn in the performance of the sector. With the gradual unlocking of the economy, record vaccinations, improvement in consumer demand, and continued support by the government in the form of AtmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and further reinforcements we are well throttled towards economic recovery this fiscal.”
Experts from the financial segment of the health industry lauded the reforms introduced through the budget, highlighting that it will lead to further economic growth and increased uptake of insurance.