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New Tax on Over 200 Medical Devices Expected to Increase Healthcare Expenses

The federal government has implemented a sales tax affecting more than 200 medical devices, including equipment used in procedures like angiography and angioplasty, as well as various diagnostic kits for diseases. This new tax, part of the 2024-25 fiscal budget, is predicted to significantly raise healthcare costs, particularly for lower-income patients.

Experts caution that this first-ever sales tax on medical diagnosis and treatment could escalate healthcare expenses by 25% to 30%. Public hospitals are expected to face budget cuts, impacting routine operations and specialized treatments such as angiographies and angioplasties.

Patients relying on private healthcare, especially from poorer and middle-class backgrounds, will feel the direct financial strain from increased costs. Masood Ahmed, Chairman of the Healthcare Devices Association of Pakistan, has urged the Prime Minister and Finance Minister to reconsider the tax, emphasizing its potential to render treatment unaffordable in private hospitals.

Dr. Syed Junaid Ali Shah, former provincial health minister and President of the Private Hospitals and Clinics Association, has also criticized the 15% sales tax on diagnostic kits, arguing that it will disproportionately burden patients, particularly those with limited financial means.

Meanwhile, the Sindh government’s introduction of a 15% tax on medical services has drawn further criticism, with concerns raised by doctors’ groups, educators, and economists. They warn that such measures might deter investment in human capital, underscoring healthcare’s status as a necessity rather than a luxury.

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