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Unhappy with the government’s revision of rates for services provided under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), private healthcare players have demanded that the government consider revising the charges for diagnostics and surgical services as well, citing losses due to rising costs.
The move follows the Union health ministry’s April 12 decision to revise the rates for consultations and treatment in private hospitals. For instance, the government has revised the OPD consultation fees from Rs 150 to Rs 350 and in-patient consultation fees from Rs 300 to Rs 350. It has also fixed ICU fees at Rs 5,400, including accommodation for all ward entitlements, while rent for a general room stay stands revised to Rs 1,500 from Rs 1,000; rent for a stay in a semi-private ward is revised to Rs 3,000 from `2,000; and the rent for a private room stay is revised to Rs 4,500, from Rs 3,000 earlier.
The demands, if taken into consideration by the government, will lead CGHS beneficiaries to pay more for tests and surgeries conducted in private hospitals. For context, the CGHS scheme serves as the nodal healthcare provider for approximately 4.2 million central government employees, pensioners and other beneficiary categories, as well as their dependents.
But dissatisfied with the partial revision, private players say that they are unable to recover the rising costs of medical care while treating CGHS patients, with testing and surgical procedures being the most expensive. “Surgical procedures are done at a hefty expense in private hospitals, the rates of which have not been revised. We have reached out to the Union health ministry demanding a revision in the procedure costs as well,” says Dr Girdhar J. Gyani, Director General of Association of Healthcare Providers in India.
Agrees Dr Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, MD & CEO of Fortis Healthcare and President of NATHEALTH (Healthcare Federation of India). “CGHS rates were last fixed in 2014 and if we look at inflation, it is difficult for hospitals and labs to provide healthcare services at rates that were fixed almost 10 years ago,” he says. Even diagnostics service providers are in a tizzy as the rates of some tests are very low, such as chest X-ray for `70; Ultrasound whole abdomen for `350; Twins antenatal ultrasound for `550, etc., say industry players.
“The private sector has requested the government to take a relook at the diagnostics prices as well. Nothing has changed for diagnostic rates, which are very low compared to market rates. A revision is direly needed to maintain financial viability of the diagnostics sector,” says Dr Harsh Mahajan, Founder and Chief Radiologist of Mahajan Imaging & Labs, a diagnostic chain in Delhi. After all, caring for all should be the mantra.