The UPA government has set itself the ambitious task of relieving the common man of "unnecessary" medical expenses in private hospitals.
As complaints of overcharging in hospitals keep pouring in, the ministry of consumer affairs, headed by KV Thomas, has decided to look into the issue and set up a mechanism to check unnecessary billing done by a section of the private medical establishment.
"Health services cannot be commercialised like any other business. We don't want to control doctors but would like to find a way to check patients’ unnecessary expenses," Thomas told Hindustan Times.
"We even hear from doctors that hospital authorities give them ‘targets’, to meet which they have to inflate bills and ensure that every patient is billed a minimum amount. This practice has to stop," he said.
The consumer affairs and health ministries are working together to chalk out the modalities, but Thomas indicated there may not be a new legislation to deal with the issue. As the allegations are mainly related to the prescription of expensive medicines and unnecessary tests and the nexus between medicine companies and hospitals, the government may set up a regulatory authority.
"Our aim is to enable patients to have the second opinion of an authority that can review the need of the prescribed medicines and tests," Thomas added.