Monday, May 22, 2017

Pvt hospitals ‘fleecing’ patients for stents: CIC

The Hitavada: New Delhi: Monday, May 22, 2017.
TAKING a serious view of private hospitals “fleecing” patients for cardiac stents, the CIC has directed the Employees State Insurance Corporation to disclose the number of patients referred by it to private hospitals for the implants and the prices paid to those hospitals.
It is alleged that private hospitals empanelled with the ESIC are overcharging patients by almost 2.5 times for stent implants and other cardiac procedures. RTI applicant Pawan Saraswat approached the Central Information Commission (CIC) after he failed to get a response for his queries on the number of patients referred by the ESIC to the private hospitals, and the prices paid by the ESIC to those hospitals for the same.
Saraswat claimed that while deciding the costs of treatment at private hospitals, the ESIC goes by the CGHS rates, and when those are not available AIIMS rates are followed and if both are unavailable ESIC rates are followed. In the rarest cases which are not listed either in CGHS or AIIMS or in ESI rate list, the outsourced empanelled “hospital rate minus a discount” is paid, he alleged.
IC Sridhar Acharyulu said the question is why the ESIC refers thousands or lakhs of patients to private hospitals knowing fully that they have to shell out 2.5 times the actual price under the CGHS. “The Government/ESIC reimburses the inflated costs of the implants/devices as and when the empanelled private hospitals are referred by the ESIC,” he said.
Acharyulu said “a big business” is being transacted through these references. “The ESIC should have complained to the health ministry or Union government about inflation of prices. Instead, it facilitated it for years continuously leading to unjust enrichment by the private hospitals and stent makers probably with kickbacks to other key players. Hence there is a huge public interest,” he noted.