NEW DELHI: Several patients and health groups, on Thursday, criticised excessive and unethical pricing by private hospitals and stressed need for regulation of healthcare charges.
The demand comes after the National Pharmaceutical Price Authority, earlier this week, released an analysis of bills from four prominent private hospitals in Delhi-NCR in as many cases of complaints of overcharging and had said that hospitals make a profit of over 1700 on some drugs and consumables.
Patients and health group experts stressed that the unethical practices of private hospitals are a direct outcome of the regulatory vacuum, which allows them to monetize the vulnerability of patients.
Gopendra Singh Parmar, father of Sourya Pratap who was treated for dengue at Medanta - the Medicity, Gurgaon shared that more than 45 per cent of his bill of Rs16 lakhs was for medicines and consumables on which the hospital appears to have taken huge margins. Just lab charges accounted for another 9.5 per cent of the bill.
“The Government must frame rules to contain the rates charged by hospitals to make them affordable. Otherwise families will continue to be forced to sell their assets, beg and borrow in their desperation to treat loved ones, just as in my case,” he said.
With regards to existing regulation to control the prices of essential medicines through the Drug Prices Control Order,2013, Mira Shiva, Co-convenor of the All India Drug Action Network pointed out several deficiencies.
“The NPPA findings that non-scheduled medicines make up around 25 per cent of the combined bill costs is hardly surprising given that almost 90% of the pharmaceutical market remains outside price control,” she said.
In its report, the NPPA had acknowledged that the market-based formula for fixing ceiling prices leaves room for huge trade margins. It had also observed that a large share of the total costs comes from in-house diagnostic services.
“The problem is being compounded in large private hospitals because they prey on patients by charging higher than market rates as well as adding on convenience fees,” said Dinesh Abrol of National Working Group of Patent Laws.
“I expect the Government to take cognizance of the NPPA findings and create new policy and regulations that will deter the healthcare mafia from fleecing patients and can prevent criminal collusion between pharmaceutical companies and hospitals/doctors,” said Jayant Singh, whose daughter Adya Singh was admitted to Fortis hospital, Gurugram and charged in excess of Rs 16 lakhs.