Cardiac Procedures More Expensive in India than in Richer Nations

The cost of most heart procedures in India was found to be more expensive than in most Asian countries, including South Korea, whose per capita income is five and a half times as high as that of India, says a TOI report quoting a study done in 2011-2014. The study, which compared the cardiac treatment costs across seven Asian countries, found that India had the highest cost of angioplasty, except Singapore. However, the study was done before the prices of the cardiac stents were capped by the pharmaceutical pricing regulator in 2017. The study revealed that most heart procedures in India were cheaper than in China or Thailand but were costlier than in South Korea and Vietnam. The study analyzed some 50 hospitals across major cities in India, most of which are privately owned. The cost data is in PPP (purchasing power parity), a theory that compares different countries’ currencies through a ‘basket of goods’ approach.

The cost of most procedures in China was found to be costlier by just 13-25 percent than in India. Vietnam, whose per capita income is almost equal to India, had the cheapest rates for all procedures barring bypass, despite having only 6 percent of privately-owned health facilities. The cost of the coronary bypass was lightly cheaper in India than in all countries, except South Korea. The study, published in the journal BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, showed that the cost of angioplasty with a single drug-eluting stent in India was double compared to that in China and over four times the cost in South Korea. The cost of stenting in India was also more expensive than in Hong Kong. “The cost of stenting in India was found to be comparable to high-income countries in Asia but this would have come down a bit after the capping of stent prices. The study reflects the cost before the capping,” said Dr JP Sawhney, who heads the cardiology department of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and was the lead author of the study from India.

The cost of most procedures in Singapore was several times that in other countries involved in the study, but then the country’s per capita GDP was higher than most European countries – about more than 13 times that of India. China and Thailand’s per capita incomes are about two and a half times that of India. The study also showed that barring Vietnam, most of the countries being compared are much wealthier than India. The parameters taken into study account for comparison are ECGs, cardiac markers, echocardiography, angiography, angioplasty with one drug-eluting stent, angioplasty with a bare metal stent, heart bypass surgery (CHBS), and one day’s stay in a cardiac intensive care unit. – Times Now

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