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Economic Survey 2017-2018: Pricing of diagnostic tests arbitrary in India

The Economic Survey has for the first time, highlighted the arbitrary pricing and wide differences in rates of diagnostic tests across cities and stressed on the need for regularising the sector.

Published: 30th January 2018 02:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th January 2018 05:57 AM   |  A+A-

File Photo for Representational Purposes.

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Economic Survey 2017-2018, tabled in the Parliament on Monday, has for the first time, highlighted the arbitrary pricing and wide differences in rates of diagnostic tests across cities and stressed on the need for regularising the sector.

Giving an example, the report says the minimum rate charged for Lipid Profile test is Rs 90 while the maximum is Rs 7,110 in several cities. Similarly, while some diagnostic centres charge Rs 100 for Thyroid Test, others charge Rs 3,100 for it.“Diagnostics are an important part of the healthcare system that provides information needed by service providers to make informed decisions related to treatment and management,” the survey said.  

“An analysis of prices of diagnostic tests across various cities in India reveals that there are not only differences in average prices of diagnostic tests but also the price range is substantial,” the report said.

“It is ironical that while the Finance Ministry’s Economic Survey has flagged the issue, the health ministry is yet to notify the specific rate charts of treatment procedures and diagnostic tests for hospitals and diagnostic tests despite having come up with the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010,” said a member of the Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare.

The survey raised concerns that expenditure by the government healthcare providers accounted for only about 23 per cent of the current health spending that reflects the prominence of private hospitals and clinics among health care providers.

The report says that in a developing country like India, incurring higher levels of Out of Pocket Expenditure on health adversely impacts the poorer sections and widens inequalities.Although the expense declined approximately 7 percentage points during the period 2004-05 to 2014-15, its share is still at 62 per cent as per the national health accounts, 2014-15.

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