Friday, July 19, 2024

Hospitals must provide health insurance: Dr Devi Shetty

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Affordable healthcare is the right of every citizen. Wealth has nothing to do with the quality of the health which our citizens can enjoy, said Padma Bhushan Dr Devi Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Hrudayalaya.  He was talking virtually to a group of healthcare professionals assembled physically at a Round Table Meeting on Vision 2030-Quality and Affordable Health for All in Telangana state, organised by FTCCI in its boardroom at Red Hills on Monday.

Dr Shetty said, “We should prove that the poor can access health care. It is generally perceived that healthcare is expensive and cost has to come down. As a Heart Surgeon, when I returned to India 33 years ago, I did heart surgery on a patient in one of the hospitals in Kolkata at a cost of Rs 1.5 lakh and 33 years later, the same surgery is done at Rs 90,000 under the government scheme.  Now tell me is it costly?  If you reduce it further, the quality of the treatment will suffer.”

According to a survey, India needs 65 million surgeries every year.  But today we are doing 26 million surgeries. What is happening to the balance of 39 million? he asked. “They are either gradually suffering or have died from lack of access to the surgery. In all, 70 to 80 per cent of these surgeries are simple ones. Even they are not accessible. That is not because of a lack of facilities or doctors, but because patients are unable to pay. The reason for that is the lack of financial intermediaries. That is a lack of health insurance.”

Take for instance the missing middle class, who are 200 to 300 million in this country.  They earn anywhere in the range of Rs 30,000 to Rs 70,0000. A Rs 10,000 health insurance annual premium they must afford to pay.

Speaking further, Dr Shetty said, his group of hospitals, does 14% of heart surgeries done in India each year. If a poor patient is advised of a heart surgery that costs Rs 3 lakh, the only thing they can do is cry. They may at the most manage Rs one lakh. But that doesn’t solve the problem.  Don’t blame the government. No government can do that. People like us have to do this, which means the people who pay taxes to the government are indirectly able to do so.

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