Healthcare like education has turned from service into a business in our country. There is nothing wrong in a business as such. Trouble starts when business is unregulated, for man is driven by greed and so the word care should be taken out of healthcare.
The author intends to dwell on how patients are being fleeced by the medicine industry while the government turns a blind eye.
A heart patient is forced to pay approximately for Rs 70,000 for stents which costs approximately Rs 35,000 in a European country. The price of these imported imported stents is unregulated and the distributors and hospitals load heavy margins resulting in fleecing of the consumer.
Devices such as stents, orthopaedic implants, ocular lens and heart valves are not included under the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO). Consequently, their prices are not monitored.
While the import duty on stents is zero, the MNC’s and all the intermediaries make heavy profits since there is no regulation. Clearly, the business entities are a greedy lot and need to be reined in.
We have a TRAI for telephones. The government needs to have something similar for these life saving medical devices.
Frequently a patient is required to make a choice whether to go for surgery on the advice of doctors. A survey conducted by Medi Angels concluded that in 44% cases second opinion from Doctors advised against surgeries. Whether the first advice is professionally correct or motivated by commercial interest is debatable.
The IMA has reacted strongly to the above survey and even approached the Medical Council of India to help control such surveys. This has opened a debate which suggests that the conduct of Doctors and medical establishments need a closer look. The IMA is failing to see that the second opinion giver is also a registered Doctor and think of the poor patient who gets conflicting advice !
The moment a patient lands in a nursing home, he is asked to go for a number of tests. The nursing homes refuse to accept reports of a test from any other lab other than one of their choice. Does it mean that labs are unreliable ?
The consumer- in this case the suffering patient is the loser.
Medical overuse is becoming a serious issue. This is helped by increasing spread of access to insurance cover. The Doctors advise a string of tests. Are theses tests really necessary , or are the Doctors playing safe are questions which lurk in the minds.
Checks against the hazard of unnecessary tests just because insurance company is there to pay need to be put in place.