Union Budget 2021 | While “health and wellbeing” budget records 137% rise, health outlay declines 9.5%

Presenting the Union Budget for 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman mentioned that the outlay for “health and wellbeing” (which includes spending on water and sanitation) increased by 137% in FY22. However, the outlay on health alone was ₹74,602 crore in FY22, 9.5% lower than the revised estimates for FY2020-21.

Apart from the health outlay, ₹35,000 crore was allocated for COVID-19 vaccination in FY2021-22. This will be sufficient to provide two doses of the cheapest available vaccine to around 65% of the population.

Share drops

The proportion of funds allocated for the health sector in the overall Budget has come down in FY22 compared to FY21.

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Minimum expected cost

Assuming a cost of ₹400 per vaccine (two doses), vaccinating 50% of India’s population would cost ₹27,052 crore, which is 77% of the COVID-19 vaccination budget of ₹35,000 crore announced on Monday.

This is a conservative estimate as the price of the cheapest available vaccine has been considered. Also, vaccine manufacturers have indicated that they may increase the cost going forward.

Also read: Data | Covishield and Covaxin currently among the cheapest COVID-19 vaccines globally

Poor coverage

In Bihar, 14.6% of households had a member covered under health insurance. In A.P, the figure was 70.2%, among the highest.

Cost factor

Such low insurance coverage is part of the reason why Indians had among the highest out-of-pocket health expenditures in the world.

Source: Budget documents, PIB, NFHS, Economic survey | *Figures for FY2021-22 are Budget estimates; FY2020-21 are revised estimates.

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