“The move will mean that the patient will have an idea about the charges before they begin the treatment or carry out the tests,” Dr Senaratne said. He said the provisions of the Private Hospitals Act had been invoked to declare the maximum charges and discussions had been held with private hospitals regarding the decision.
A Health Ministry investigation unit would be monitoring the implementation of the decision and take legal action against hospitals violating the regulations. The minister said the unit would also be empowered to probe complaints. He said the Government had already provided concessions where medical charges had been exempted from the Value Added Tax (VAT) and, therefore, private hospitals were expected to pass on the benefit to the patients.
Dr. Senaratne said another gazette notification was being issued to regulate service charges imposed by private hospitals.He said that under the gazette notification when patients were discharged from hospital, only normal charges would apply to any medicine given — and not the amount charged from warded patients. This regulation was being enforced because in some hospitals they were charged the amount that indoor patients paid.
The minister said that one of the complaints received was that a patient who underwent heart surgery under a Rs 700,000 package had been eventually charged Rs 2.9 million. He said the patient had passed away and the hospital had refused to release the body, and after discussions the doctors’ charges of Rs 400,000 and another Rs 200,000 were reduced forcing the family to pay Rs 2.3 million.