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The All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS-New Delhi) has done away with user charges for all tests and diagnostics that cost below Rs 300 “with immediate effect”. This will make most blood and urine tests, plain x-ray, and ultrasound among others free to patients visiting the outpatient department or admitted to general wards.
Currently, most blood and urine tests at AIIMS cost around Rs 25, plain x-rays cost anywhere between Rs 30 to 200 depending on the body part being investigated, mammography costs Rs 300, and ultrasound costs Rs 200.
“The president of AIIMS is pleased to approve the abolition of user charges for all investigations or laboratory charges currently costing upto Rs 300 per procedure in AIIMS hospital and all centres, with immediate effect,” read a hospital notification.
To cross-subsidise the costs, the charges in private and deluxe wards at the hospital have been increased. The ordinary private rooms will cost Rs 3,000 per day, up from Rs 2,000 being charged previously. The charges for the deluxe rooms have been increased to Rs 6,000 per day from the current Rs 3,000. And, the charges for food in the private rooms have been revised from Rs 200 to Rs 300.
“The revised charges will be applicable with effect from 01.06.2022,” said another notification from the hospital. Just as it happens now, patients will have to deposit an advance for ten days at the time of admission.
To compare, such rooms can cost anywhere between Rs 10,000 and 30,000 at private hospitals per day. The admission charges to the general ward at AIIMS are Rs 25, with hospitalisation charges standing at Rs 35 per day.
This decision comes nearly five years after it was first proposed by Dr Randeep Guleria during the first year of his directorship. His five-year tenure as director ended in March, and he was given an extension for another three months till the new director can be selected. At the time, Dr Guleria said that collecting these nominal charges from patients costs more in terms of payment to staff than the revenue generated.
AIIMS sees around 10,000 patients in its out-patient clinics and around 2,000 get admitted to the hospital each day. This includes poor patients not just from Delhi but across the country.
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