For the first time, you can put a number to what everybody has known and felt at some time: that private hospitalization is prohibitively costly. On an average a hospital admission would be more than three times as costly in a private hospital as in a government facility. In some cases, like eye diseases, private hospitals can cost up to 6.5 times more than government ones, and for an obstetrics or neonatal case, seven times. Childbirth costs eight and a half times more in private hospitals compared to government ones.
These findings are part of the latest survey report put out by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).
“Private hospitalization costs have been increasing continuously. The only reason people go to private hospitals is because government hospitals are so few and under so much pressure,” says Amit Sengupta of the People’s Health Movement.
In rural areas, about 58% of all hospitalization cases go to private hospitals. This is up from about 56% in 1995-96. In urban areas, only 68% cases go to private hospitals, up from 57% twenty years ago, according to the report.
About 86% of the rural and 82% of urban population is not covered by any kind of health expenditure support, whether government funded or private insurance covered. This means that the high hospitalization costs would substantially affect the family’s budget in a majority of cases as incomes are not very high.
The report found that the main source of meeting hospitalization expenses was savings from income. In rural areas, a quarter of households borrowed money to meet hospital related expenditure. The source of borrowing was not found out. In urban areas too over 18% people had to borrow money to meet hospitalization costs.
The healthcare sector all over the world suffers from an “information asymmetry”, according to Sengupta. This means that patients have practically no information or even competence to know about costs or make a choice about treatment. The doctors and hospitals have all the information and competence. This always leads to inefficiencies, escalated costs and even malpractice, he said.
“The only way to bring down private healthcare costs is to have a robust public healthcare system at no or nominal cost to the people. Look at the National Health Service (NHS) in UK – because of it, only a minuscule number of people go to private providers,” Sengupta asserted.
Source: Economic Times- 9 July 2015