Overcharging, rate disparity still a problem with diagnostic tests in J&K

Overcharging, rate disparity still a problem with diagnostic tests in J&K

Srinagar: The Health and Medical Education (H&ME) department has fixed rates for major diagnostic procedures in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the lack of monitoring by officials has led to poor implementation of the government orders. Overcharging and rate disparity continues among various hospitals, including government hospitals, and diagnostic centers in Kashmir.
“Various government and private hospitals and diagnostic centers in Kashmir region charge patients as per their own will. They always quote rates which are not approved by the government,” said a doctor at SMHS Hospital.
He said there was huge disparity of rates in different hospitals for the same tests. “The government has come up with a uniform rate list for all hospitals and private diagnostic centers. But no one is following the rates because there is no check by officials on the ground,” the doctor said.
The issue continues to trouble people even as a series of orders were issued by the H&ME department asking hospitals and diagnostic centers to display the government approved rate list of all major tests.
Abdul Qayoom of Budgam said that patients are being charged 20 to 30 percent extra at most of the labs in his district.
“A private lab charges Rs 6,000 for a brain MRI when the rate is not more than Rs 4,000,” he said.
Similarly, tests like CT Scan, Ultrasound, and biochemistry screenings are done at higher rates, he said.
“Simple tests like CBC and serum amylase test are done at 20 percent higher rates in labs which are in close vicinity of the Baramulla district and sub-district hospital,” said a doctor who is working in Baramulla.
The issue is not limited to private labs only; government hospitals also indulge in overcharging.
The government hospital in Anantnag charges Rs 200 for a lipid profile while the government approved rate is Rs 120.
Similarly, for thyroid profile and follicle profile, patients are charged Rs 200-250 in district hospitals, while the government approved rate is Rs 150 and Rs 100, respectively.
In some hospitals, patients are even charged for tests that are supposed to be free.
President, Private Diagnostic Centers Association J&K, Umar Dhar told Kashmir Reader that diagnostic centers affiliated with the association do not overcharge. He blamed quacks and government hospital employees for the disparity.
“We have strictly told all our members to follow the genuine rate list, otherwise they will lose membership,” he said.
He said that diagnostic tests were a major source of revenue for many hospital employees, including those appointed under hospital development fund (HDF).
“There is a nexus between many quacks and hospital employees which is bringing a bad name to the profession. Genuine diagnostic centres never put patients to any inconvenience,” he said.
Dhar appealed to the government to curb such illegal practices that he said were taking place in many government hospitals.
“This must end as it has reached a serious level. Poor patients are bearing the brunt of such corrupt practices,” he said.
Spokesperson for the H&ME, Dr Shafqat Khan, said that strict orders have been issued many times in the past to control overcharging and disparity in prices of various tests. However, he admitted that there must be some lacunae in the implementation by the district officials.
“The department will issue fresh directions and check the progress of implementation,” he assured.
Early this year, the Governor’s administration fixed the rate structure for as many as 72 different medical tests (investigations) and diagnostic services at government hospitals. The decision came after a large number of complaints and grievances were received by the government about overcharging.
The 72 medical tests/investigations along with their fixed rates include Blood Sugar (Glucose): Free; Blood Sugar (F and PP): free; G.T.T.: Rs. 50; Blood Urea: Rs. 15; Sr. Creatinine:– Rs. 15; KFT (Urea + Creatinine): Rs. 40; LFT (Bil-T +Bil- D+ALP+SGOT +SGPT +ALB+ T.P): Rs. 175; Sr. Bilirubin (Total): Free; Sr. Bilurobin (Direct): Free; Alkaline Phosphates: Rs. 20; SGOT: Rs. 20;, SGPT: Rs. 20; Albumen: Rs. 10; Total Protein: Rs 15; Lipid profile (Chol+ T.G+HDL +LDL): Rs. 120; Sr. Uric Acid: Rs. 15; Sr. Amylase: Rs. 35; Sr. Calcium: Rs. 15; Cholesterol: Rs. 30; Triglycerides: Rs. 30; HbAlC: Rs. 150; Sr. Lipase: Rs. 150; CBC (03 Part): Rs. 40; CBC (03 Part + ESR): Rs. 60; CBC (03 Part+ESR+EBF): Rs. 70; CBC (OS Part): Rs. 80; Platelet Count: Rs. 15; ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate): Rs. 10; PBF for MP: Rs. 10; P.C.V.: Rs. 10; B.T +C.T.: Free; Haemoglobin (Hb): Free; TLC+DLC: Free; Blood Grouping: Free; Reticulocyte Count: Rs. 20; Absolute Easonophil Count: Rs. 20; PBF: Rs. 10; Thyroid Profile(T3,TR4,TSH): Rs. 150; Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Test (T.S.H): Rs. 100; Follicle Stimulating Hormone Test (F.S.H): Rs. 110; Luteinizing Hormone Test (L.H): Rs. 110; Prolactine Test (PRL): Rs. 110; Prostate Specific Antigen Test (P.S.A): Rs. 120; Cancer Antigen: Rs 125; Ovary Test (CA 125): Rs. 350; Troponin ‘T’: Rs. 400; T3: Rs. 25; T4: Rs. 25; Arterial Blood Gases (ABG) & Venous Blood Gases (VBG): Rs. 200; Electrolytes Na+, K+: Rs. 50; HBS Ag Card Method: Rs. 40; HCV Card Method: Rs. 70; VDRL/ Syphils Card Method: Rs. 30; HBSAg ELISA: Rs. 60; HCV ELISA: Rs. 100; HAV (IGM): Rs. 110; HEV (IGM): Rs. 110; Antistreptolysin (ASO): Rs. 40; C. Reactive Protein (C.R.P): Rs. 30; Widal Test: Rs. 20; R.F: Rs. 20; HIV Card Method: Free; HIV ELISA: Free; Body fluid CSF, Ascetic fluid etc with Sugar and Protein: Rs. 50; Urine Examination Routine: Free; 24 Hour Urinary Examination: Rs. 20; Urine for Urobilinogen: Rs. 20; Urine for Acetone: Rs. 20; Urine for Gravindex Test: Rs. 15; Urine for Occult Blood: Rs. 15; Semen Analysis: Free; Stool Examination: Free; and Stool Examination for Occult blood: Rs. 15.