Thanks to price rise, healthcare will cost you a lot more

Giving examples, he said the price of nitrile gloves has gone up from Rs 3.50 to Rs 6, and reagents for blood sugar tests have risen from Rs 2-3 to Rs 5-6.

Published: 08th November 2021 06:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th November 2021 10:05 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

BENGALURU: Citing the rise in prices of consumables and medicines, as well as the need to sustain higher salaries of health staff during the pandemic, hospitals say the cost of healthcare for patients may increase. 

The cost of consumables such as nitrile gloves, bandages, sanitiser, gowns, masks, shoe covers, sterilising chemicals and lab reagents has gone up, pointed out Dr HM Prasanna, president, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA).

Giving examples, he said the price of nitrile gloves has gone up from Rs 3.50 to Rs 6, and reagents for blood sugar tests have risen from Rs 2-3 to Rs 5-6.

"The cost of general medicines and antibiotics has gone up. Since input cost is higher, it will be passed on to patients. We were paying higher salaries to health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they expect it to continue, though cases have dropped. In order to sustain the hospital, the cost of procedures has to be reset. For example, a knee replacement surgery, which costs Rs 2.5 lakh, will now be priced higher," Dr Prasanna said. 

It’s not medicines, but the price of inputs for medicines that has escalated, said Harish K Jain, president of Karnataka Drugs and Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association. This is due to the supply chain disruption owing to the pandemic, he said.

"For example, PVC foil, aluminium foil, active pharmaceutical ingredients, plastic, paper and products used for packaging have increased. We are dependent on China for pharmaceutical raw materials and they have hiked prices. The government must step in and allow for prices to be increased beyond what is permitted now," Jain said. 

The pandemic has already blown a hole in the pocket of common people as prices for beds and consumables were increased, causing a drastic change in the billing pattern since Covid-19 began, said Sabeel Nazir, trustee of Naasih Foundation, that clears bills for patients who cannot afford it.

“Now the market has stabilised and even logistics are sorted out with no restrictions. They should reverse hospital rates to pre-Covid times. Hospitals don’t want to do that as they have seen people shelling out money for medical emergencies during the pandemic. The government needs to control pharma bills,” Nazir said. A source pointed out that hospital pharmacies earn a higher margin as they sell drugs at exorbitant rates and there is no check on this by the government.


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