By Sanchari Pal
Bill is a middle-class man.
Bill wanted an operation for his hernia.
Bill got himself admitted to a private hospital for the operation.
On discharge, Bill found his hospital bills to be exorbitantly high.
Bill refused payment and beat up the doctor-in-charge thinking him to have framed such an expensive billing.
BILL IS STUPID. DO NOT BE LIKE BILL.
In light of the recent unrest at private hospitals, a lot of words have been exchanged. Some of them, very heated. However, most of them have converged on one redundant conclusion: doctors are money sharks and they exist in private hospitals for the sole purpose of emptying your pockets.
If one were to check statistics a little closely, one would see that only about 4% of a private hospital’s total profit goes into the pockets of a doctor. So, technically, only 4% of your exorbitant hospital bill is your doctor’s ‘fault’.
Why Are Private Hospitals So Expensive?
So, why are you paying so much? A hospital bill includes various aspects like bed charges, ventilation charges, ICU charges, medication charges, equipment charges, oxygen charges, OT charges etc. Of the myriad of charges included in a bill, nothing except the consultant’s fees and sometimes, the procedural charges reach the doctor treating you.
All the other charges are determined by the hospital administration of which the doctor is NOT a part and vary from place to place.
Let me make things clearer with an example. A coronary stenting procedure which is done for FREE at any government hospital, costs around 1.5 lakhs at a private hospital.
A similar picture exists in the antibiotic scene too. A very popular antibiotic used commonly in ICU set ups has been priced at 1271 INR by Zuventus Pharma and the every same product has been priced at 2140 INR by Cipla.
However, the common people are not supposed to be aware of such internal details. But the government is very much aware. Why then, does it never inquire into such discrepancies?
It is easier to use populist measures and threaten the doctors on the forefront rather than take the MNCs to task.
The Private Hospital Agitation in West Bengal
After the recent agitation at CMRI Hospitals followed by the complaints against Apollo Glen eagles, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has decided that the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Act has to be made more powerful so that the Government has greater powers while dealing with corporate hospitals.
A very welcome move, no doubt. But one cannot ignore the pressing need to improve the health infrastructure in the government hospitals first. The concept of a Welfare State no longer exists if a poor patient has to wait for one month for a simple operation.
The words welfare state becomes a joke when VIP cabins and CCU beds are occupied for days on end by people with ‘significant political connections’.
It is often complained of doctors that they have a predilection to work in private set ups. That is not surprising, given the quality of life a doctor has at a government establishment. Let me just highlight a few points:
They get paid peanuts for round-the-clock work. Work like administering an injection and bringing reports from the laboratory are done by doctors.
A junior doctor gets to sleep on bed bug infested beds and sometimes, no access to even hygienic toilets, which is an acute problem for the lady doctors.
A doctor sitting at a government hospital O.P.D. has to see a minimum of 80 patients per day, sometimes with a defunct fan, during the sweltering summer months.
There is one thing you need to understand, irrespective of the anti-physician fuel that the news channels have been feeding you. To a doctor, it is imperative that his/her patient gets better. And he/she is bound to do it at any cost.
Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath at a very young age which directs to put a sick patient above all else. No doctor, in their right minds, would ever do anything that would increment the misery of a patient.
So, the next time you are handed an exorbitantly expensive bill at a hospital, I would request you to delve deeper to hit the nail on the head.