Connect with us

Headlines of The Day

Rate standardization: BIS initiates efforts to enhance transparency in hospital billing process

The Bureau of Indian Standards has initiated efforts to standardise and enhance transparency in the billing process at hospitals, a move that could benefit not only patients but also health insurers and governments agencies.

BIS has called for consultations from industry bodies and other stakeholders.

The development comes after the Supreme Court recently pulled up the government for its apparent failure to specify a range of prices that private hospitals and clinical establishments can charge for various treatments and procedures, although some argue uniform hospital rates across states isn’t feasible.

“A meeting has been called on 15 May on the issue. Suggestions have been sought from public representative bodies and think tanks on what changes can be brought in terms of regulations in the billing in hospitals,” said an official aware of the matter.

“Currently, we are in the stage of seeking recommendations and then some decision will be taken,” said the official, asking not to be identified.

The issue of transparency in billing by private hospitals has been a longstanding concern, which was exacerbated during the covid-19 pandemic as patients encountered invoices charging for several unexplained items or services.

“Even doctors face the wrath of the public over confusion regarding billing. So there is a need to come up with a simpler version of billing systems in hospitals. This will help both public and hospital administration,” said another official familiar with the developments.

Glaring discrepancies
“As far as defining billing format or template is concerned, it is a welcome step provided it is designed in consultation with key stakeholders,” said Dr Girdhar Gyani, director general, Association of Healthcare Providers (India).

“Such a template would, of course, need to be exhaustive to take into consideration all possible variables. But surely it will bring uniformity and more importantly ease of understanding and finally transparency,” he added.

The Union health and family welfare ministry recently informed the Supreme Court that uniformity in charges for the same procedure across all hospitals was not feasible.

The apex court had earlier asked the ministry to hold a meeting with all state health departments after finding glaring discrepancy in the prices of medical treatments across government and private medical facilities.

‘Uniform template not feasible’
Harish Salve, senior advocate appearing for NatHealth-Healthcare Federation of India, a body comprising stakeholders in India’s healthcare sector, said in a conversation with Mint that it was not for the courts to determine the price of medical services, and that it was the duty of the legislature.

“Price fixation of medical services, for all hospitals, all across India is not possible. No one size can fit all,” Salve said. “There is no comparison between a government hospital which receives various subsidies from the government and private hospitals, who are not beneficiaries to any such subsidies. No other service industry in India is price capped as the same is not possible.”

The apex court had in February criticized the Centre for failing to enforce the 14-year-old Clinical Establishment (Central Government) Rules, which are aimed at enforcing standard charges for various medical treatments and procedures.

The Union government had come up with a pricing template for all states, but state authorities had said fixing a price range for various treatments and procedures may not be feasible.

“By addressing this issue comprehensively, stakeholders can ensure fair and equitable billing practices, fostering greater accountability and confidence in the healthcare system overall,” said Dr Gyani. LiveMint

Copyright © 2024 Medical Buyer

error: Content is protected !!