Doctor consultation charges at most private hospitals empanelled with the Central Government Health Services (CGHS) is Rs. 58 for every patient.
While most hospitals are keen to be listed with CGHS as they make money on admissions, diagnostic tests and surgeries — which cost 25-35% less than normal charges — the doctors are upset because they get less than one tenth of what they otherwise charge.
The rates of consultations, tests, procedures and surgeries are fixed after a competitive bidding process by the stakeholders. The lowest bid is fixed as the final cost at which CGHS will reimburse the empanelled hospitals.
Private consultation charges of doctors vary between Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,500 in most private hospitals.
“The consultation charges of doctors at super-specialty and NABH accredited rates are Rs. 240 and the rest are Rs. 58- 60. Imagine in this day and age, who pays a consultant so low?” said Dr Purushottam Lal, chairman doctor in department of cardiology at Metro Hospitals.
“These rates are not accepted by many specialists and hospitals have to contribute the remaining amount to ensure that patients get proper attention. While most other CGHS payments are about 25-35% less than those charged in the private sector, consultation charges are abysmally low,” said Lal.
“We tend to ignore or treat CGHS patients shabbily, even if we don’t want to. It is not fair on the patient but again if the doctor is upset, he is bound to transfer his pent up emotions on to the patient,” said an ophthalmologist at Yashoda hospital in Nehru Nagar.
“Even for an admitted dengue patient, where the bill runs up to Rs. 1 lakh or more in some cases, the consultant ends up getting no more than Rs. 2,000,” said the doctor.
Dr Ashok Seth, chairman and chief of invasive and interventional cardiology at Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, said, “Low consultation charges aren’t the problem but delayed payments and ad-hoc deductions by the CGHS are.”
CGHS officials, however, said they have not received any complaints about consultation payments. “We can’t do much till the next revision process,” said a CGHS official, requesting anonymity.