Healthcare is an industry that has grown to be profitable industry. As the development of technology in healthcare has increased, most incurable diseases a few years before are curable now. Still this pandemic has pushed our world health care system to test and many people didn’t get what they deserved. In this article, we will talk about the positive and negative impact of profits on Healthcare. I am not an expert, just sharing the things based on the experience I had in the last few years.
In recent news, we came to know Dolo a renowned medicine that is prescribed by doctors, was done because pharma companies gave Rs 1000 cr gifts to various doctors across the country, that is sad. This is clearly showing how companies play with people’s lives just for profits. This is just a recent example.
Let’s first see how our healthcare has grown over the years and the problems we are facing.
How Healthcare has grown over the years
Our health industry has grown and we have cures for a lot of diseases which we did not have earlier.
We have created one of the best covid vaccines in the world in quite a short time.
Vaccines for diseases like Measles, Flu, and more
We have eradicated diseases like Smallpox, Polio
With the increase in curing the disease, we have also grown our intention of profits.
More and more private hospitals have opened to cure almost any diseases we have. But these private hospitals have an intention of earning profits because for them it is a business. I agree that if a businessman opens a hospital he is going to aim for earning profits. But the point I am trying to make is why that profit intention causes problems for the people.
Before that let’s understand what is the problem in Healthcare
Problems in healthcare
Generic and Branded Medicines
All the pharma companies have tie-up with doctors. This allows doctors to earn extra money if they recommend specific branded medicines. These branded medicines are patented by the pharma companies so other companies cannot make them. This creates a monopoly and makes the prices for that branded medicines high. This is not only restricted to medicines, some doctors recommend other doctors, hospitals, or pathology centres, they do this because they earn a commission.
If one was to become a doctor in India, he would require at least 10 lakh rupees on average to become an MBBS, and any other specialization would cost more. This is a govt college fee I am talking about. For private it starts from 20 lakhs and goes into crores, it depends on the college.
The problem with getting into the college is that there are limited seats. The total seats available in India is 91,927 MBBS seats out of which 48012 are government seats, while the 43915 seats are in private MBBS colleges. As per WHO in India, we have 1 Doctor per 1511 people, but the recommended limit is 1 doctor per 1000 people.
If a person is paying this high a price to become a doctor, naturally he/she would want to earn more. So he/she would accept any means necessary, like getting a commission for medicine. That doctor would also not like to work in govt hospital in a rural area, because the money-making opportunity is less there.
Using people’s Fear for their own benefit
One of the main problems is fear, people are feared when they hear big medical terms. Hospitals do not try to explain in easy and understanding language, they use medical terms which we do not understand and in fear we agree to everything. This is a big plus point for the hospitals and doctors which they use for their benefit. Sometimes they would say we will keep the patient under observation for a few extra days just to get that extra money out of your pocket. If you do not agree they would say it is not our responsibility if something happens to the patient.
One of the major problems is profits, I do not disagree with earning money, that is important, but just to get the extra profit of a person in need is wrong. Let us understand the positive and negative impact of profits on healthcare
Positive impact of Profits in Healthcare
Profits are good, as the hospital gets more money to invest and make the infrastructure better with the latest technology. More Profits allow getting a better doctor onboard with higher expertise. Though this is an inherited problem, the fees for healthcare education have gone up drastically. We talked about this earlier in the article.
Profits also help in putting more money into research and development and finding cures for diseases which we do not have cures for.
But only working for-profits have a lot of problems which we will talk about below
Negative impact of Profits in healthcare
When profit-making is important for a hospital, they start declining patients that do not have money. The hospital will try to charge more if the patient seems rich or have Health/Medical insurance.
I had a personal experience where my mother had health insurance and it was a small operation for which it would not have cost more than Rs 10000, and only required a day. But seeing that my mother had Health Insurance, the surgery got stretched to 3 days and the total cost was Rs 40000. And even after that they were making excuses and giving me medical terms to try to stretch more days. But then I got angry and shouted at them to discharge my mother asap or else I will report.
I had a few more of these incidents in my life and also lost loved ones due to medical negligence. One of my friends whose mother had cancer went to one of the renowned cancer facilities as he was told his mother would get some kind of medical scheme benefits. He was called along with his mother for a few days to the facility, and after few days they said sorry we do not have any scheme for you. This is not the right way to treat a cancer patient, they could have checked and let them know in a single day so that they could have gone somewhere else. Though his mother got the proper treatment and she is fine now.
If more and more hospitals focus on earning only profits, this would create more problems. Poor and average-earning people will get not get good treatment at an affordable cost.
It might have sounded till now like all the hospitals are the same and govt hospital are useless. It is not the case everywhere, some private hospitals work for curing people, and some govt hospitals do have good medical infrastructure and technology
We need more govt hospitals, with good facilities. I Beleive healthcare is something which should not be treated as a business, and each and everyone should get equal treatment. Healthcare is not a leisure activity it is mandatory for each and every person whether rich or poor.
There are schemes for poor people but are these schemes implemented correctly at the grass root level? That should be checked regularly.
There are no schemes for average-earning people, as they are not poor, but cannot afford high medical expenses. I am one of them. Health/Medical insurance is only the solution for us. Even in insurance, you have a lot of clauses, pre-existing ailments are not covered, and certain diseases are not covered, even the consumables are not covered under insurance. This sounds quite bullshit.
According to me, every citizen should get healthcare schemes and benefits, as it is a mandatory requirement for living unlike buying a car or getting a loan. More govt hospitals with good facilities should be made. For the year 2022-23 India has reduced its budget allocation by 45%, this is not something the govt should be doing. They should invest more in Healthcare as it is a necessity. We should adopt healthcare systems like nordic countries. They have public healthcare for all of their citizens, which guarantees high-quality healthcare facilities at a min or no cost to the patient.
I know it is easier said than done, but govt should start working and implementing small things so that we can have a good healthcare system in India.
We do have problems in our Healthcare industry which is even further affected by profits. But it is not like we can not solve this problem. We need to understand the positive and negative impact of profits on healthcare and improve our healthcare system by treating healthcare not as a business, but as a service. We need more govt hospitals with good facilities that could cater to all the citizens equally. What do you think?