Government Regulations to Cap Surgical Procedures in India
India has become a hub of medical tourism owing to the presence of qualified and highly-skilled doctors and surgeons. The number will not remain the same; however, the cost is not feasible for everyone in the country. People flying to India for treatment may bear the expenditure; however, the cost may be too high for the citizens of the country.
One of the major steps taken by the government of India in the recent years is the reduction in the cost of treatment so that the promise it has made of providing treatment to every citizen can be fulfilled. The long held NHP or National Health Policy has got its wings now in the year 2017. The aim of the policy is to eradicate the cost of treatment in every possible way. The policy aims at the reduction of illness, child birth mortality, blindness percentage and much more. The policy also aims at making HIV/AIDS almost negligible and even if it exists, to make 90 per cent of the people diagnosed know the status and avail the antiretroviral therapy.
The biggest step in the healthcare and promotion is the capping of various surgeries and treatments that have been recently announced. Capping on various products and services like stent, knee replacement etc.
Stent Capping was introduced by the government of India on the 13th of February, 2017. This was to rule out the growing medical expenditure of average earning group in the country. This is a noble initiative by the government for the citizens; however, there has been a protest by various stent manufacturing companies. The pharma industry is stern against it and we are shocked. Soon the capping of stent price was made compulsory; hospitals had found a different means of earning. They started increasing the prices of catherers, balloons and other devices. To this, the government protested. NPPA (National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority) Chairman, Bhupinder Singh wrote a letter to the health secretary CK Mishra. The letter read, “It had been found that after the price control of cardiac stents several hospitals have increased the various procedure charges in order to compensate for their losses. NPPA has also found some specific complaints that several hospitals have increased the prices of balloons and the cardiac catheters which have not been included in NLEM, 2015. In some cases, the cost of balloons and catheters has been charged at a much higher level than the cost of stent itself. This situation needs immediate intervention by ministry of health by declaring balloons, cardiac catheters, covered stents and peripheral stents as drugs and also to be notified under NLEM, 2015”.
Apart from stent capping, government has also imposed capping on knee replacement surgery owing to the number of people going undergoing the surgery and most of them belonging to the lowest income group. With the knee replacement price capping, the price has gone down to 65 per cent which is great news for the citizens of India. Earlier, if cobalt chromium knee implant was Rs 1, 58,324, now it has gone down to Rs 54,720 and so on. The highest cost of knee implant had been anywhere between Rs 2.75 lakh to Rs 9 lakhs. Now it has become Rs 1, 13,950 approximately.
West Bengal price capping
While the central government has initiated price capping on various medical equipment and surgical procedures, West Bengal government is also adhering to certain norms so that cost of surgical procedures is not way beyond anyone’s expectation. To make this feasible and budget-friendly, private hospitals have begun the process of pre-examination. This is to ensure that the patients are given an estimate of the process thereafter and beyond which the hospital will not charge. This is to maintain transparency and rational procedures are followed for the people of all strata of life. Close-ended package policy has also been implemented by a few hospitals.
Karnataka price capping
This is another move taken by the government of Karnataka; however, the doctors of private hospitals are not game for this policy. They have been protesting and as per them, the capping was meant for those admitted in government hospitals and not private hospitals. Owing to this protest, few changes or amendments might take place soon as per the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill.
Capping is a good move and should be supported by our citizens. If the doctors are not supporting the cause; how can we dream of an India that is healthy and developed? Treatment has to be equal and approachable for everyone. This is the government’s call and a centralised policy should be applicable to all the states.