Govt tells hospitals to make charges public

- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu
Dr Bhola Ram Shrestha, chief of the Curative Services Division under Health Ministry, says people should know about the cost of services beforehand

Mar 7, 2018-The Health Ministry has decided to ask all the health facilities, especially hospitals, to make public the fees they charge for services.

The ministry on Tuesday wrote to the Association of Private Health Institutions, Nepal (APHIN) to ask all its members to comply with the decision. More than 100 hospitals are associated with APHIN.

“People should know about the cost of services beforehand,” said Dr Bhola Ram Shrestha, chief of the Curative Services Division. “The charges that the hospitals update on their website will also be monitored.”

The decision was implemented following rounds of discussion with APHIN and other stakeholders. It was agreed that the hospitals should mandatorily make the prices public of each service including laboratory and radiological tests offered. They should be displayed in a separate section on the website and regularly updated. This will require prices of over 4,000 services to be displayed publicly.

“We’ve also asked all our affiliated institutes to comply with the decision of the ministry. This will provide choices for the public of where to visit for various health services,” said Gopi Neupane, general secretary of APHIN. “This will also clear misconceptions among the public that private hospitals charge high. If they charge more, the hospitals should be able to justify the rates.”

According to the ministry, there are 1,824 “non-public” health facilities including private hospitals and clinics across the country.

Apart from private hospitals, the government will also ask state-run facilities to update their prices on the website. While there is already the provision of displaying information on the citizen’s charter, officials said it was not feasible to list down all the services given their increasing number.

Data provided by the Health Management Information System shows there are 4,653 government health facilities including zonal, regional and tertiary care hospitals.

Jyoti Baniya, consumer rights activist, welcomed the decision.

“We are already late. This decision had to be made years back. Also, we need a strong law that binds all the health facilities especially private hospitals,” said Baniya. “We’ll be constantly monitoring implementation of this decision. If private hospitals do not comply with it, we will file a case of fraudulence.”

Rights activists have been questioning the arbitrary and exorbitant fees charged by private hospitals under various headings.

Published: 07-03-2018 08:10

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