India’s largest healthcare buybacks have already been underway for more than a year, with the government announcing plans to spend nearly Rs 1,000 crore on the program.
The $600-crore program will help the country’s largest health insurance companies and private companies to sell their stocks on an exchange that will be set up by the government to encourage private sector investment.
The government says the scheme will bring down the price of healthcare products for consumers, including pharmaceuticals, by up to $600 per patient per month, and will reduce the burden on hospitals.
The program will also help the Indian government to increase its share of healthcare spending, said an official statement released by the Health Ministry on Thursday.
The government will also be able to spend about $400 crore on hospitals to expand capacity, it added.
The healthcare buy-back is being announced as the government tries to ease pressure on the nation’s hospitals, which have been suffering from a lack of medicines and staffing.
The hospitals have been struggling to find enough personnel and medicines to treat patients.
Last month, the government announced a $600 million fund to help improve the health of India’s hospitals.
It has also announced plans to sell its stocks in private companies.
The Indian government’s plan will be announced in the next two months, the official said.
The health insurance market in India has been on a downward spiral, with most insurers slashing the amount they cover for the uninsured, forcing many patients to pay for expensive medicines with their insurance, said Anupam Choudhary, executive director of the advocacy group Centre for Health Equity.