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09 Oct 2012
New Delhi, India

The Central Government is planning to make it mandatory for all private hospitals to declare and display the treatment costs of different diseases

Health experts and industry on Monday welcomed the government's move to put a check on unnecessary medical tests done by hospitals and demanded that government hospitals should also be brought under the proposed plan.

Director General of Health Services Jagdish Prasad said that the government was planning to make it mandatory for all private hospitals to declare and display the treatment costs of different diseases.

The government would also notify standard costs and medical procedures for various diseases to check over-billing, according to Mr. Prasad.

Sangita Reddy, executive director of private hospital chain Apollo, said the step would help bring down the out-of-pocket expenditure.

"Access, affordability and quality have been three major issues plaguing the Indian healthcare sector. The limited public expenditure of 1.1 percent of GDP has not been able to provide the required access and hence we see about 80 percent of healthcare providers in the private sector.

"About 60 percent of healthcare expenses are borne out of pocket due to low penetration of Health Insurance and we are at an early stage of quality adherence in health sector in the country," Ms. Reddy said.

In a statement, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), however, said that "it would be incorrect to single out only private healthcare providers for unnecessary tests. Over and under diagnosis is an issue that exists in public hospitals as well".

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FIICI suggested developing standard treatment guidelines.

"There are several states like Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which have also developed STGs (standard treatment guidelines).

"The need of the hour is to bring about convergence of all isolated initiatives and have a STGs for national coverage, categorised according to tertiary, secondary and primary care in the country," FICCI added.

Chairman of National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers Narottam Puri said that accreditation for all hospitals should be focused upon.

"It's a pity that some of the top hospitals of the cities, both public and private, are not accredited. Accreditation should be used as a quality improvement tool in the country to benefit the consumer," Puri said.

He also said that hospitals should not be categorised on the basis of cost of treatment.

"Categorisation of hospitals based on only cost of treatment should certainly not be the way forward. This will only create unnecessary confusion in the mind of the patient while seeking treatment in private sector hospitals," he added.

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