Demonetization had a huge impact on all sectors in India and healthcare was no exception to it. Initially, healthcare industry experienced a major setback because of the demonetization of high denomination notes. There was a considerable delay in the treatment for patients as the private hospitals, clinics and some doctors refused to accept the ceased currency notes during initial stages but the notification from the central government that explained ‘hospitals that function under state and central government ownership will accept old notes’ eased it. Apart from that, many of the pharmacies refused to sell medicines in exchange of higher denominations. The medical tourists from foreign countries also faced difficulties in getting treatment as the exchange of foreign currencies with Indian rupees were limited to only a few thousand. Nearly 70% of door-step services in healthcare industry were affected. Online Pharmacies and retail stores temporarily stopped ‘cash on delivery’ facility which also made it difficult for the common people to access healthcare.
But indeed demonetization compensated its flaws with its merits. It increased the digital transaction that forced the pharmacies to have legal invoicing and billing of exact amount for every medicine bought & sold which in turn prevented the distribution of prescription medicines over the counter. Demonetization also created awareness for the requirement of cashless treatment that is more common in the developed countries. India being a country known for its out of pocket spending on most of the medical expenses, demonetization became an eye opener for Indians which made them realize the need for having a health insurance. Digital payment methods such as BHIM, UPI, BharatQR and AEPS that are introduced as a part of digital India program have significantly reduced the transaction costs and have made making payments easier.
The article is attributed to Mr Kenneth – Co founder Klinikals