Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has announced an ambitious National Health Protection Scheme for 10 crore poor families. Rs 5 lakh will be allocated per year for a family. The flagship health care scheme would be the world's largest government-funded health programme, Ayushman Bharat Programme, Jaitley said.
It seems several cases of overcharging at private hospitals have found an echo in Jaitley's Budget.
Not long ago, a prominent hospital hit the headlines for overcharging the family of a seven-year-old dengue patient. The government had promised to probe the incident.
The Economic Survey 2015-16, prepared by Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and tabled in Parliament in February 2016, had pointed out large gap between the cost of government and private healthcare.
"NSSO (2015) reports that the average medical expenditure for treatment (excluding child birth) per hospitalized case if treated in private hospital was about four times than that of public hospital during January-June 2014. On an average, Rs 25,850 was spent for treatment per hospitalized case by people in the private facilities as against Rs 6,120 in the public health facilities," said the survey.
Not just this. The next year Subramanian wrote in the Economic Survey that government should take action, including imposing fines, against hospitals for inflated costs.
"There has to be concerted efforts by the Central and State governments to reform the health sector, by addressing quality issues, standardising rates for diagnostic tests, generating awareness about alternative health systems and introduction of punitive measures like fines on hospitals and private health providers for false claims through surgery, medicines, etc.," he wrote.