Poor Indians Cannot Afford This Healthcare

This is in continuation to my article yesterday which was written in sarcasm for the millions of Indians who are always abusing the Indian Healthcare and its Doctors. Indian Doctors and Philipino Nurses are considered the best all over the world but not in the eyes of fellow Indians. When it comes to buying Luxury goods like an iphone worth Rs. 70,000 we are ready to queue up since 6 am in the morning in front of the closed Apple Store but when it comes to queuing at AIIMS we abhor the idea. We expect the doctor to be waiting for us at Max Hospital or Fortis Hospital and we get angry if our appointment is delayed by even 15 minutes because we expect the doctors to be at our service. When it comes to making the payment for this high quality of healthcare we call the same doctors and hospitals as `Chor’ and `Lutera’.

India is one of the biggest market for cars costing more than 10 lac rupees and the flats in some Indian cities are more costly than even Los Angeles. Have you ever heard anyone calling these car companies or the real estate companies by the same names. Never. We Indians are not poor when it comes to eating out at swanky restaurants but when it comes to making the payment for high quality of healthcare we become `Below Poverty Line’. Actually the fault is not ours. We never deserved this high quality of heathcare because we cannot appreciate the difference. For us Tommy Hillfiger is a brand but a hospital giving us Hillrom beds has no meaning. Hospitals like Medanta and Fortis were fools to buy hospital beds costing more than 2 lac rupees each when a ‘Takhat’ is what we deserved. In the 90’s when the economic liberalization started and suddenly Indian economy was being watched with great interest by the rest of the world, our doctors made the cardinal mistake of upgrading their infrastructure. Till then the nursing homes were good enough to do deliveries and small surgeries and would charge slightly more than the expenses incurred at the government hospitals. Suddenly the hospitals started having MRI machines costing more than 6 crores, PET Scanners costing 12 crores, Linear Accelerator costing 15 crores, Modular Operation Theatres with Hepa Filters and Modular ICU’s. India today has more than 1500 Cathlabs each costing more than 2 crores. We had never asked for such expensive medical equipments or for such flashy hospitals. We were happy with the old dilapidated X-Ray machine and smelly waiting areas. Afterall healthcare was never a priority for the middle classes. For us the expenses on house, car, white goods and lavish holidays is more important then paying the same hard earned money to these doctors.

The hospitals soon realized their mistake and started providing their services to the international patients who could actually appreciate the fact that a knee replacement surgery in India costs Rs. 2 lacs while the same surgery in US costs 30 lacs. Most of these hospitals get almost 50% of their revenue through international patients and the remaining 50% through the actually poor people who also appreciate the role of these hospitals in saving precious lives. The noisy middle classes are actually not welcome at many of these hospitals because of our attitude. We are poor and vocally abusive. Why would someone, who has studied medicine for more than 10 years, tolerate our abuses. So before they show us our place, let us find it ourselves.

We could have gone back to the nursing homes from where we started but that option is also closed now. Most of the nursing homes followed in the footsteps of the corporate hospitals and upgraded their infrastructure. Today most of the nursing homes in Gurgaon are airconditioned. They also started calling superspecialist doctors for the treatment of the patients and now their charges are also beyond us. If Max Hospital is charging Rs. 72000 per day for ICU bed for a covid patient, these nursing homes are also charging close to Rs. 40,000 per day for the same. We poor people cannot afford these nursing homes also. That leaves us with the government hospitals. Let us find the ways and means of getting a bed at AIIMS, RML, GTB or Gurgaon General Hospital for those of us who reside in the NCR region. How many of you have actually seen the Government Hospital in Gurgaon from the outside, forget about going in. Most of you would not even be aware that the one which was located in the Civil Lines area is no more at that place. It has shifted to Sector-10. You can lambast the government hospitals on social media for the quality of the services and they would not be flustered.

We may blame Nehru for everything that is wrong in India but the real culprit is we the poor indians. Many of us do not even vote and even those who vote have never demanded world class public healthcare. Successive governments have managed to spend a miniscule amount on public health and education and still won elections. We are more interested in knowing when North Korea is going to destroy the world or how Pakistan is struggling to survive. We were made to believe that everything in India is absolutely fine for the last 6 years and then Corona struck. One person in Indian media has been waging a lone battle to bring the real issues in the forefront but all he gets is abuses and threats.

We can cry ourselves hoarse calling names to the private hospitals and doctors but nothing is going to come out of it. You cannot force any profession to work at prices which are below their costs. So even if the government caps the pricing for private hospitals, they are not going to entertain us. The other option is to actually go below the poverty line and join the `Ayushman Bharat’ where atleast the nursing homes would be accessible to us.


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