Punjab Healthcare Commission determines charges for private hospitals

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Punjab Healthcare Commission determines
charges for private hospitals
Private healthcare facilities categorized into four groups
to fix maximum charges for room, rent, consultant
fee, OPD visit, commonly performed procedures

LAHORE: Despite having the mandate to enforce a standardized pricing structure for hospitals, the Punjab Healthcare Commission refrained from taking any action all these years. However, after the directives of the Supreme Court, the Commission invited 16 tertiary hospitals to join in the effort of working out price structure for the consultants and Commonly Undertaken Procedures (CUP). The preliminary report on costing and fees of private hospitals was submitted to the SC on December 15, 2018.

Ever since the strengthening of the private health sector in Pakistan on the back of an unregulated atmosphere, the treatment has become costlier over the years. In fact, doctors and hospitals have been charging on their own whims. It was indeed surprising for the PHC to know about the absence of any pricing mechanism in any of the 16 leading hospitals.

With the assistance of a private firm, the PHC studied various pricing models. Finally, the Activity Based Costing framework was taken up to determine prices for the CUPs. So far rates have been proposed for room stay, Outpatient Department (OPD), consultation, room visits, 14 surgical procedures (surgeon fee, operation theatre charges, and anaesthetist fee), 17 OPD procedures, 18 Lab tests and 16 imaging procedures. Rates are profit-inclusive. Depending on the facilities provided, hospitals have been divided into four categories---A to D.

The consultants’ fees are decided depending upon their qualifications and experiences. It is up to Rs. 2500. It is further proposed that only one visit will be charged from the admitted patient, irrespective of the number of visits a consultant pays in a day.

The anomaly of charging different rents under different monikers for rooms offering similar facilities and services was removed and standardized room rates depending upon the facilities provided are introduced. The rent proposed for the top-of-the-line rooms ranges between Rs20, 224 (Grade-A hospital) to Rs17,732 (grade ‘D’ hospital). Rates for the general ward is reduced to Rs 1600 from 3,200 for the ‘A’ category hospitals and Rs2, 800 for grade ‘D’ hospitals. ICU bed were being charged up to Rs22, 000 which is now set at Rs. 15,675.

To take care of the variation found in the prices for OPD procedures the PHC has proposed standardized prices. For example, the rate for gastroscopy procedures ranged between Rs 7,500 to Rs 46,000, the proposed price is maximum Rs. 12,800 for grade ‘A’ hospitals. Likewise, the professional fee charged for surgeries also varies across hospitals, in case of appendectomy, some doctors are charging up to Rs 45,000 which has now been proposed to be maximum Rs. 38,000.

Per minute costing mechanism is adapted to set rates for operation theatre (OT). According to the new proposal, the charges for any OTs would now depend on the duration for which it remains engaged in a surgical procedure. The suggested charges for Level-I consultant for an appendectomy is set at Rs 4,800 which was previously around Rs. 15,000.

As of now the rates for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) differ across hospitals. The range hovers between Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 22,000. PHC has suggested the rates for MRI to be maximum Rs. 5,641. On similar lines, the proposed fees for Ultrasound is set at Rs. 1,340. PHC has proposed to cut the rates of routine laboratory tests to half of what is being already charged. If the rate of Complete Blood Count, commonly called CBS, is Rs 1,100, PHC proposes it to be brought down to Rs 355. With the beginning of this new chapter, the PHC has achieved yet another milestone in enabling the private health sector to provide affordable quality treatment.(PR)

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