The Maharashtra government wants to incorporate a tariff card system as part of a new comprehensive health policy.
This policy would help in streamline the tariff structure in hospitals, the government argues. 'Through the Clinical Establishment Act, we want to bring some social accountability among private hospitals as well as private medical practitioners,' Maharashtra Health minister Vimal Mundada has told reporters.
'There has to be some rationale as to why some private hospitals get away charging upto Rs 1 lakh for a simple appendicitis operation. Or why a blood test or X-ray conducted in private hospitals should cost Rs 30,000,' he reasoned.
The minister has held talks with the Indian Medical Council on the issue.
Jaslok Hospital Director General M Masand said regulation is easier said than done. 'If people want five star facilities and renowned doctors to operate them, then naturally expenses would go up.
'We cannot display a uniform tariff as doctor's charges and post operative care differs in every case,' he stressed.
Bombay Hospital spokesperson Ashish Tiwari said, 'Unlike other hospitals, we have a transparent fee structure. Despite the doctor's reputation, we charge a fixed fee. Even rates for general ward and deluxe are disclosed to patients.
'However, generalising the tariff structure is not practical,' he said.
At the Bombay Hospital, the cost of a bye-pass surgery would cost Rs 1.10 lakh for a general ward patient. It goes upto to Rs 3 lakh for a first class or deluxe ward patient.
A gall bladder treatment would cost between Rs 10,000 and Rs 90,000, depending on individual case history.
'How can we display the cost of a brain tumour operation. If it is found to be malignant, the treatment expense goes up. If it is non-malignant, it will be an operation that will be less complex,' Tiwari noted.
But the minister seems to believe that having a tariff card would bring in more transparency in the entire system and that it is time the government stepped in to check the healthcare costs going through the roof these days.
But precisely how the reluctant private managements are going to be brought around remains to be seen.