A PGI study has found that patients below the poverty line(BPL) who receive treatment at the Institute have to incur expenses on medicines as they have not been made free for them. At PGI, patients having a BPL card are offered free treatment subject to some restrictions. As per the study, the patients generally bear the extra expense on medicine and supplies, that is not covered under BPL. Professor Arun Aggarwal, from the department of Community medicine PGI, and one of the co-authors of the study told Chandigarh Newsline that data of 190 patients was collected regarding their medical expense on medicine, supplies, diagnostics and user fees.
The study was put on display recently during the Institute’s Research Day which was celebrated last week.
“During our study, we found that although poor free status confers some protection…mainly the BPL patients have to pay a huge amount to buy medicines,” Aggarwal said.
The study also found that they occur huge expenses on costly antibiotics and supplies meant for surgery. The mean total patient medical expense spent by poor patients at the institute was Rs 13,208. At the same time, the mean total amount spent by a normal patient (without BPL) was Rs 28,612. Similarly, the study found that a patient with poor free facility have to spent around Rs 12,231 for medicines, same as what is spent by non- poor free patient, i.e. Rs 11,758.
Aggarwal said that other schemes for poor patients follow stringent income certification process that they find difficult to follow when in crisis.
The study also stated that “huge expense is incurred mainly on medicine. Institute offers substantial protection on user fee and diagnostics”. The study has also highlighted the need to offer financial protection to BPL patients suffering from diseases which is likely to incur huge expenses.