ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Improving Healthcare Services at Reduced Prices

The key to improving the quality of healthcare services in India and reducing costs at the same time can be found by enacting legislation which lays down minimum standards of patient care. In the absence of such standards and the reluctance of health insurance companies to standardise either price or quality, healthcare services continue to be expensive and of doubtful quality. Developing standards of patient care by legislative mandate and a change in the attitude of health insurers can change the equation in favour of the patient who is now at the mercy of the hospital.

The views expressed are personal.

Expecting improved healthcare services at reduced prices seems contradictory. Surely any improvement in any service must necessarily entail a rise in cost? While there is a need to increase expenditure on health there is also a dire need to cut down costs. Cost escalation is needed where existing pricing systems have little slack. This is not the case where healthcare delivery in India is concerned. There is not only a great deal of slack in the existing healthcare pricing in the private sector but also, in order to bring it down without causing loss and benefiting all is very much possible.

Before doing that, we would like to say that existing high prices for facilities in the private healthcare sector are no guarantee of high quality just as the low prices of facilities in the public sector are no indicator of poor quality. Actually where the practice of the healthcare sector is concerned, pricing is not an indicator of much. The one factor that makes such a contradictory state of affairs possible is the fact that there is no professional consensus on what constitutes good patient care, and nor is there any legislative mandate on delivering it or on establishing controls on how this is being done.

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