Time of the year when many will rush to medicine stores not to ask for medicines. Instead they ask for medical bills which they have to submit before end of march to save tax on fifteen thousand rupees that government allows under section medical reimbursement. To handle the traditional busy march ‘bill sale’ season, Chemists across the country are well prepared.
“Two of my drawers are filled with duplicate receipt books which I have printed especially for this purpose. As it has been the case for last so many years, I am sure this year also in march I will sell more bills than medicines,” said M. Natarajan (name changed on request) who runs a pharmacy store in electronics city, Bengaluru.
Mr. Natarajan added, “I typically charged five percent commission to those who would not ask for what I write in the bill. Those who are inquisitive type, want to know unnecessarily for which disease I wrote the medicine name, I charge them a percent or two extra to teach them a lesson.”
“Unfortunately Government has not increased the cap of fifteen thousand rupees under medical reimbursement for more than a decade or so. The printing cost, the transportation cost, the bribe cost to income tax officers who know we do such things, all have increased in line with general inflation. So with five percent commission things are not working out for us,” said Mr. Natarajan.
“Recently we, the pharmacy store owners met and discussed how to keep this business sustainable. We had a consensus, from next year onward we have to increase the commission to seven and half percent minimum. We did not want to increase this year as many have taken a hit due to demonetization and there is already slowdown in IT sector from where the maximum demand comes,” said Natarajan.
Unlike medicine stores, travel agents across India who supply bills for leave travel allowance are seeing a real slow down. “Not sure it is fear for IT department, hardly anyone is coming to us to ask for ambassador car bills for a round trip from Kanyakumari to Kashmir,” said a travel agent who is planning to change his profession.