Gadget costs may burden patients

Gadget costs may burden patients

 Experts term the exemption of health care from the goods and services tax (GST), a patient-friendly move.

However, patients who avail services of multispecialty hospitals, may have to pay more. Healthcare professionals said they may be forced to charge patients as medical equipment may attract 5% to 12% tax.

“Moving equipment from one place to another involves cost. Buying equipment also involves a higher charge. In such cases, we will have to charge the patient,” said Sabesan Ramani, chief financial officer (CFO), Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital.

“Although GST eliminates multiple tax system, we are yet to know if it takes care of our concerns,” said Ramani.

Sameer Agarwal, CFO, Manipal Hospitals said, “This may appear to be a patient-friendly move. But GST applicable on expenses incurred by hospitals continues to be a cost. This means patient bills may not come down under GST. In fact, hospitals would have to increase costs as taxes on services and prices of medicines are expected to increase broadly by 3%.”

“There is likely to be an indirect impact. We’ll have to wait and see if patients are charged based on the cost of the equipment,” said Dr Manish Mattoo, zonal director, Fortis Hospital.

“Output services are exempted from taxes. With input services, where healthcare takes services from external agencies, the cost of healthcare services will rise.

Patients will mostly be charged as the rates are bound to increase,” said Alka Saxena, financial controller, Health Care at Home. Narayan Hebbar, general manager, Milann Fertility Centre said there is a positive effect on the healthcare industry. Multiple taxation now it will get amalgamated, he said.

“There is some uncertainity and till we get used to it, it may be a little difficult,” he said.

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