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Industry to seek tax relief for cancer diagnostics

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Ahmedabad, Dec 16 Citing the examples of Goods and Services Tax (GST) levied on reagents and consumables required for cancer diagnostics and on some of the anti-cancer drugs, cancer care players are planning to seek tax relief from the government in the upcoming Union Budget.

Raj Gore, Chief Executive Officer, HCG, who is also Co-Chair of FICCI Task Force on Cancer Care underlined the need for a relief on customs duty levied on radiation therapy machines, which are mostly imported and can widen the coverage of cancer treatment.

“A missing piece of not having comprehensive cancer care in smaller towns is radiation therapy, because it requires imported equipment costing about $2-3 million. Most people can’t invest in it as it costs 30 per cent more with customs duty and IGST. It will be nice if the government gives some relief so that more players can invest in it,” he said.

He, however, noted that the government-insurance scheme of Ayushyaman Bharat has already helped in widening the courage for cancer care in small cities by providing health coverage of upto ₹5 lakh. “The health insurance coverage has improved from three per cent of population 15 years ago to about 32 per cent now. This is a big improvement,” he said.

Insurance cover

He highlighted the need for expansion of insurance cover for cancer diagnostic tests like PET Scan and biopsy, mostly not covered under different State schemes.

“It is the gold standard of cancer testing. Without insurance coverage, the patient has to spend out-of-pocket. It is necessary to cover these key diagnostic tests as well as emerging treatments such as targeted therapies, immuno-therapies under all government schemes. This is like giving patients a reasonably good chance of first getting diagnosed accurately, and then getting treated comprehensively so that there are better outcomes.”

“We have to move further in the insurance dialogue to value-outcomes rather than just focusing on cover. It is difficult. But eventually we would be required to do it,” he said.



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