Private doctors’ consultation fees likely to be hikedNepal Medical Association says it will revise the fee structure after the government did not decide on its proposal.
Nepal Medical Association, an organisation of medical and dental doctors, is expected to announce a hike consultation fees at its extended conference in Pokhara, scheduled to kick off on February 28.
“We sent a proposal to the health ministry [to hike the fees], but neither the outgoing health minister nor his successor took a decision,” said Dr Prakash Budhathoky, the association's newly elected treasurer.
Doctors with private practice have long been demanding that the government revise their fees, and place a ceiling on it to ensure fair practice. According to the association, the ministry had earlier agreed to revise the fee structure every two years, but such as revision has not taken place since 2014.
“Now, we are going to take the decision [on the issue of fees] during our conference, and implement the new fee structure across the country,” Budhathoky told the Post.
Currently, doctors at private hospitals and clinics charge Rs 250-450 for each appointment, based on the practitioner’s degree and experience.
If the proposed fee structure is implemented, patients will have to pay Rs 775 for an appointment with consultant doctors who hold MD, MS or MDS degrees and have more than 10 years of experience.
Similarly, doctors under the same category with five years of experience will charge Rs 725 for every visit, and those with less than five years of experience can charge up to Rs 660.
Doctors with one year of training after completing their MBBS degree will be allowed to charge Rs 555 and those with an MBBS degree, but experience of less than a year, will be allowed to charge Rs 416 for each appointment.
Under the revised fee structure, hospitals and clinics can charge an additional 20 per cent to the doctors’ fees.
Last year, the health ministry formed a team of experts comprising representatives from the association, Nepal Medical Council and consumer rights groups to propose a fee ceiling for doctors.
The association prepared a proposal on the revision of fee structures based on the inflation data published by Nepal Rastra Bank, said Budhathoky. He said the revised fee structure is implemented, authorities can regulate the market, as some doctors already charge more than the stipulated fees.
“All concerned agencies, including the Nepal Medical Council, have endorsed the proposal, except for the health ministry," said Budhathoky.
Dr Bhagwan Koirala, chairman of Nepal Medical Council, said that the council's full- house meeting has already endorsed the proposal forwarded by the association. "Implementation of the fee ceiling will help regulating bodies prevent doctors from charging more than the allowed amount," Koirala told the Post.
About a month ago, Minister for Health Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal had sought the council's opinion on the proposal to hike doctors’ fee ceiling. Koirala said that the government should form a mechanism to regulate doctors’ fees and practices.