Paying The Hefty Price Of Healthcare : Hospital Bills And The Medicine Business

A few years ago, a report came out comparing the stents used in cardiac surgeries; one was a foreign-made model and another was a locally made one. The results of the study showed that there was no significant, functional difference in the two stents, however most hospitals seemed to be using the foreign-made version, as it was priced differently. Most patients too, go with the suggested model, assuming that doctors have their best interests in mind. However, this nonchalant mentality may be what is allowing hospitals and medical facilities to unnecessarily overcharge patients.

Earlier this month, Max Hospital (in New Delhi) was in the news for a case of gross medical negligence; the staff had wrongly declared a baby as stillborn without using any method of validating the same.

In another case of medical negligence, doctors and staff at Fortis Hospital in Gurugram have come under fire for charging the family of seven-year-old girl exorbitant rates after she died due to dengue under their negligent care. Max Hospital has had its licence cancelled, and Fortis is still being investigated. As a report by NDTV stated the young girl wasn’t allocated an ambulance with apt ventilator support which aggravated her condition. Furthermore, the hospital is said to have made around 108 percent profit on medicines given to [her], and some of the [medicines] were overcharged by 717 percent.”

Know Your Rights

As a consumer, one has the right to know the full details of what they are paying for, even at hospitals. Most of the time, people trust their doctors and hospital workers without questioning them or fully understanding what the treatment being done entails. “The doctor-patient relationship comes with certain binding confidentialities, as a patient or their primary attender, you have the full responsibility and right to get all the details about what treatment is being provided. You are also entitled to know about alternative options and cost estimates. Many times, patients don’t ask these questions and they should,” says Dr Karthik Ram who works in a private hospital in Chennai.

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It is vital to understand what the healthcare system is like, one should not hesitate to ask of doctors and hospital staff the nature of the medication and treatment they are receiving. If someone requires hospitalization, ask for cost estimates at the end of the day with details entailing what exactly is being paid for. When there is effective communication it will be easier to see if there is anything being charged extra or if there are alternative options. Stay informed of what you are paying for.

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