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NPPA calls for better oversight of private hospitals

NPPA calls for better oversight of private hospitals

MUMBAI: Drug pricing authority called for better regulation of the country’s massive private healthcare industry on Friday to ensure government efforts to cut prices benefit patients.

To cut the cost of procedures such as angioplasty and knee surgery, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has dramatically reduced prices of knee implants and cardiac stents in recent months.

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The move has been hailed as a major effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make healthcare affordable, but it has been met with stiff resistance from healthcare providers.

Several hospitals across the country have hiked prices of related services which are an essential part of such surgeries – like doctors’ fees and hospital stay costs – to make up for the price caps, according to industry insiders and activists.

These actions risk impeding the efforts of the NPPA, as it considers bringing more medical devices under price control with the aim of making healthcare more accessible in a country where it is still a luxury for many.

“We have to find a way to rationalize the cost of hospital care,” NPPA Chairman Bhupendra Singh told Reuters. “There is no legal framework to regulate hospital charges.”

India spends roughly one percent of its gross domestic product on healthcare – among the lowest in the world – this has resulted in a broken public healthcare system that few trust.

Nearly 70 percent of healthcare delivery is therefore in the hands of private players, from small clinics to large hospital chains. But this private industry is largely unregulated.

The government think-tank NITI Aayog has been pushing for further privatization of healthcare services, which some experts have expressed concerns over, pushing instead for improvements in the public health infrastructure.

Alexander Thomas, president of the Association Healthcare Providers of India, said hospitals hiking prices after the price control measures are doing so to cover treatment costs.

Most private hospitals, he added, adhere to standards and the AHPI has also been advising its member hospitals to bring in more transparency in the billing process.

Singh said the impact of bringing down the prices of knee implants and stents had been “substantial,” but more needs to be done, such as clear display of treatment costs by hospitals so patients can compare prices across providers.

The health ministry could also look at standardizing the cost of certain treatments, so the prices don’t vary across hospitals, Singh said.

(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in Mumbai; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

2 comment(s) on NPPA calls for better oversight of private hospitals

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  1. Compare IT returns of doctors with other professionals of similar age like lawyers chartered accountants & software professionals
    Compare industry profits of hospitals pharma industry with software firms accountancy & law firms hotel industries. If doctors & hospitals are making significantly more profits try to bring in reasonable regulation otherwise no point in just be behind medical field ignoring all others
    If you want uniform rates across hospitals try bringing uniform rates across all hotels,across all lawyers,across all accountants to name a few

  2. The expectations from the NDA were, action and less talk. Agreed that the MRP of knee implants was bought down. Already in a highly competitive market basic knee implants were not charged to the patient at MRP, they were being sold at around the same price as the present MRP, therefore there is no significant reduction in the pricing of implants for majority of the patients. Only the newer implants whose advantages are yet to be proved have come down by a significant percentage, but these implants form a minority. The mistake the hospitals have been doing is cross subsidising and not maintaining transparency in billing. I request the NPPA to publish the cost of per bed per day in various government hospitals, then we can understand which sector need greater controls and opitmisation. The patients perceive treatment to be free in government hospitals, but it is the tax payers money which funds it.