Sunday, June 16, 2024

Govt raises rent, consultation fees at CGHS hospitals

New Delhi: The health ministry has hiked consultation charges and room rents under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) as it tries to persuade private hospitals to treat those covered by the subsidised programme.

Recent changes include doubling outpatient department charges from 150 to 350 and raising inpatient department (IPD) consultation fees by 50, setting IPD rates at 350.

ICU services are now set at 5,400 per day, including accommodation.

Room rents have been hiked 1.5-fold: 1,500 for general rooms, 3,000 for semi-private wards, and 4,500 for private rooms. The changes will require additional government expenses of 240-300 crore.

The CGHS serves as the primary healthcare provider for central government employees, pensioners and select beneficiary groups, along with their dependents.

Over 4.2 million registered beneficiaries can access subsidized treatment at private hospitals through the scheme.

This revision marks the first such change since 2014. The government’s inaction prompted several large corporate hospitals to threaten withdrawal from CGHS services. Mint first reported the story on 23 February.

“We conducted a series of discussions with the CGHS stakeholders as package rates were not revised since 2014. Also, there were multiple reports that CGHS empanelled hospitals were attempting to discontinue the services. Therefore, the health ministry has now revised the package rates so that many bigger hospitals can join the platform and beneficiaries can get the benefit,” an official said, requesting anonymity.

The government has also simplified referral processes for larger hospitals.

“Earlier, CGHS beneficiaries had to go to the CGHS wellness centre to avail of a referral to the hospital. To avoid those hassles—now, a beneficiary can take referral over a video call,” said an official.

Over 1,670 private hospitals and 213 laboratories are currently empanelled under the CGHS, including prominent private chains such as Medanta, Fortis, Narayana, Apollo, Max, and Manipal Hospitals.

Commenting on the government’s move, Dr Girdhar Gyani, the CGHS working group coordinator for private healthcare providers, said, “This is just a symbolic move and partial revision in the CGHS price. There are 1,736 procedures. There is no mention of them. We were expecting a 25-30% hike considering that these have remained unchanged since 2014.”

CGHS spans 79 cities and is expanding to Panchkula, Hubli, Narela, Chandigarh, and Jammu. Over 103 Ayush centres are also part of CGHS service. In 2021, the health ministry integrated CGHS with the National Health Authority’s IT platform to streamline healthcare services for eligible beneficiaries.

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