NEW DELHI: The proposal by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to do away with user charges on diagnostic procedures like blood tests and X-rays, which cost less than Rs 500 will take more time to become a reality.
While the institute has conducted a pilot study to justify its proposal and submitted the same to the health ministry, the administration has now sought details of the user fees charged for each tests from each department.
According to a source at AIIMS, the proposal has been submitted to Health Minister J P Nadda but there has been no development on it.
On directives from the finance ministry, the health ministry had repeatedly asked the hospital to review and revise user charges unchanged in the past 20 years.The cost of many routine tests at AIIMS ranges between Rs 10 and Rs 25.
A committee headed by Dr Anoop Saraya, head of department of Gastroenterology at the AIIMS was constituted to review the user fee charges at the hospital and had submitted its report.
The committee recommended that private ward charges should be increased to Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000 per day to make up for the loss as their rates are cheaper as compared to that of semi-private ward charges in corporate hospitals that can be accessed by Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) beneficiaries.
“It is recommended that charges on low cost investigations or interventions (below Rs 500 per test) should be eliminated,” Saraya had said in his report.
The pilot study found that patients had to spend a substantial amount in the form of cost for travel from the point of residence, cost of food and lodging for self and attendants and loss of income for patients as well as for attendants.
The study also stated that patients encountered long queues for dates for prescribed investigations, for payment of user charges and then for the investigations on scheduled days.
The patients had to make multiple travels or visits for clinching each laboratory investigation which added to avoidable harassment and economical loss to patients, the study stated.
According to the study, a patient from Delhi has to shell out Rs 1,900 on every visit to the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences while those from outside the national capital on an average spend Rs 4,300 per visit.