Health: how much it costs to seek medical treatment in private ?

Although health is free in public hospitals, many Mauritians, according to a Household Health Budget Survey, opt for private health care because they are  obviously not satisfied with the treatment ditched to them in many public hospitals. Those who are unaware about the cost of expenditure in private clinics or other private health sectors, here is a general idea of how much money one needs to have and afford before one could go to those private clinics for treatment.

Let us be reminded of the medical fees doctors charge patients in the private sector. In recent years, there was a uniformity of rates/fees practised in the private health sector following the recommendation of the Association of Private Clinics. So the rates/fees of doctors who treat a patient admitted in a private clinic are at times fixed at Rs2,325 (General Practitioner) and Rs 3,487.50 (Consultant) for the very first 24 hours. Sometimes the fees drop to Rs 1,937  (Generalist) and Rs 3,100 (Specialist). Another time it will cost Rs 1,162 (Generalist) and Rs 2,325 (Specialist) per day. However, the patient must pay a supplement of 20% if he/she is admitted after 5.00pm or on a public holiday or on a Sunday.

What about normal consultations? The doctor’s fees vary from Rs 600 to Rs 900 for a generalist and Rs 1,200 and upwards for a specialist if these doctors need to move. Those who consult on site normally take between Rs 500 and Rs 600 (a generalist) and Rs 900 and upward for a specialist on appointment, according to certain private clinics. Normally, specialists such as gynecologists, cardiologists and orthopedists are most solicited than general practitioners by patients. Besides, their fees are more expensive, coming round Rs 600 to Rs 1,200. The average is about Rs 800. It is those who have good reputation and have made a name for themselves in the medical profession who will charge the most expensive fees.

Certain doctor’s fees that exceed the amount recommended could cause certain problem. The patient concerned needs to be aware that if ever he/she had a policy of medical insurance, that insurance will only pay the basic fixed rates regulation as set up by the Association of Private Clinics. The patient has to foot the extra bill from his own pocket.

On the other hand, let us look at the cost of surgery in private clinics. In order to do a caesarean operation in a private clinic, the patient needs to have at least between Rs 65,000  and Rs 75,000 and such quoted fees include room, nursing care, dressing of post operative surgical wound, medicines. By the way one wonders why a vast majority of pregnant women have to undergo caesarean for delivery. Formerly caesarean  surgical operations were exceptions to save lives but nowadays it seems to be a fashion. A normal birth delivery costs between Rs 40,000 and Rs 45,000 in a private clinic. For a laparoscopy examination which is a surgical operation exercise that allows the doctor to see the inside cavity of the abdomen or uterus, the fees are between Rs 60,000 and  Rs 65,000.

Patients who want to have surgical operations such as haemorroidectomy (ablation des hemorroides) need to pay between at least Rs 35,000 and Rs 40,000. For the surgical removal of the ovaries, it will cost the patient at least Rs 74,000. For varicose veins surgery on both legs it will cost the patient a budget of Rs 86,000. If the rates of surgical operations are fixed by the Association of Private Clinics, the rates however, vary from clinic to clinic since they include room services and room rates which differ depending on the circumstances.

Today many patients are fleeced—as there is no governmental control over the price of medicines and related medical gadgets. Now that the Minister of Health is a seasoned doctor, let us hope that now good order will prevail. As a doctor himself, I am sure he will reform the health service to our benefit.