The recent controversies surrounding the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-UG) have left a myriad of students directionless. 

Numerous alleged irregularities and misconduct, including claims of a NEET 2024 paper leak were revealed on June 4, 2024, when the National Testing Agency (NTA) announced the NEET UG results. 

People are now asking questions of whether medical education has become a business, or is money more important than a patient’s life. Here is an answer to the questions. 

Is Medical Education A Business? 

Till 2009, all private MBBS colleges were run by trusts or charitable societies. Under the Trust Act, of 1882 or the WAKFS Act, of 1954, medical colleges are run and managed by a Public Religious or Charitable Trust. However, it is a well-known fact that many are making illegal profits through capitation fees, and exorbitant tuition fees, among others. 

In February 2010, the then-UPA government allowed companies registered under the Companies Act to open medical colleges with the caveat that “permission shall be withdrawn if the colleges resort to commercialisation”.

However, in August 2016, this practice was also left when the then health minister JP Nadda approved an amendment in the eligibility criteria to allow companies to set up for-profit medical colleges. The government said that such a move followed because no companies were willing to set up colleges due to the no-profit stipulation. 

The government also argued that profits would be made in transparent ways and that legally permitted profits would at least yield some income tax for the exchequer. However, there was no consideration or discussion about how would students afford these increased fees. 

Mining giant, Vedanta was one of the first to set up a college in Palghar Maharashtra. The state government gave it a free hand in deciding fees, a move that shocked the medical fraternity and students. 

In January 2017, the government notified that any medical college set up by an autonomous body, society, or trust could be converted into a company, thus ending the pretence of MBBS colleges being a not-for-profit venture. 

Chhaya Pachauli, a public health activist from Rajasthan, said, “All this is only about producing more doctors and not about the quality of doctors suited to our needs. Doctor shortage is in rural areas, but with no fee regulation only the affluent will become doctors. Will they serve where the shortage is?”

In October 2021, a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and B V Nagarathna had said, “We are getting a strong impression that the medical profession has become a business, medical education has become a business and the regulation of medical education has also become a business. That’s the tragedy of the nation.

Read More: Shocking Confessions By NEET 2024 Paper Leak Arrested Students

Capital Driven Healthcare: 

Of late, the medical community has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Today, people are going to private hospitals for treatment with the perception that these are the best in the country or even in the world. Unfortunately, private hospitals have become capital-intensive, driven by capital and assessed by a return on investment. 

A report by insurtech company Plum titled “Health Report of Corporate India 2023” sheds light on the health of India’s workforce, revealing that India has one of the highest medical inflation rates in Asia, reaching 14%. 

According to a WHO (World Health Organization) report, private doctors, clinics and hospitals makeup 80% of the total healthcare spending. More than 55 million people are pushed back into poverty every year because of “catastrophic” health expenses, which affect some 17% of households.

Price-setting and reimbursements lie at the heart of a state-run public health insurance programme or a law giving people the right to health. 

For example, an operation in a high-end hospital could cost six times more than in a nursing home. If the government opts for a cheaper rate, private hospitals are likely to turn away patients seeking surgery under the program or ask them to pay the balance. If the government opts for the higher rate, the costs of the program would escalate tremendously.

Prof Jishnu Das of Georgetown University examined more than 1.6 million claims and 20,000 patients in an existing state-run public health insurance programme in Rajasthan and said, “weak oversight and profit-motivated private agents are systematically flouting programme rules to increase their revenues at the expense of the government and patients“.

Currently, India is spending a little over 2% of its GDP on public healthcare, which is one of the lowest in the world. To address the dire issues revolving around medical education, we need strong policies. 

Thus, medical education in India has turned into a capitalistic business. The recent developments in the NEET exam and sky-high private college fees are all saying so.

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: BBC, The Times of India, The Economic Times

Find the blogger: Unusha Ahmad

This post is tagged under: MBBS, NEET, government, healthcare, students, protests, paper leak, exams, India, GDP, capitalist, doctors, surgeons, patients, money

Disclaimer: We do not hold any right, or copyright over any of the images used, these have been taken from Google. In case of credits or removal, the owner may kindly mail us.

Other Recommendations:

What All Went Wrong With The NEET 2024 Results?



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here