A common man may highly underestimate the costs involved in getting treated for a disease. For example, a simple visit to clinic to get rid of a viral fever may cost nothing short of Rs.1000/-. Half of this amount may go to the physician as his fee while the rest may go to the medical shop for buying medicine. For a manual laborer working on daily wages, Rs.1000/- is a big unaffordable amount. In the above example we are only talking about a viral fever. Imagine if it is a life threatening disease. If it is a life threatening disease, we may have to replace the word unaffordable with ‘impossible’. This situation is not an exaggerated situation but an everyday common scenario among the 21.2% of the estimated BPL (Below Poverty Line) population.
The government and corporate hospitals should take practical steps to bring medicine within the affordable range of this 21% population. After all, as everyone would agree, medicine is not a luxury, it is a need. This need unlike other basic needs such as food, clothing cannot wait for 2-3 days during emergency situations. It requires attention that has to be immediate. The life and death of a person depends on this need. There is more than one way that a government can lend a helping hand to this population. Like in every other industry, in the field of medicine, the players involved try to get benefit out of their work. The doctors, corporate hospitals, medical equipment manufacturers and everyone else wants to earn money at the end of the day. The overhead cost of medical equipment increases because of the different taxes involved in purchase of the raw material from the very beginning. All these costs run into the overall cost of the final product which is levied by the manufacturer on the purchasing party. The purchasing party could be a corporate hospital or a diagnostic lab. Either way, once the lab or hospital purchases the equipment for a defined amount, the hospital or lab try to recover the cost of purchase from the patient. Ultimately, the entire cost has to be borne by the patients.
Government can get actively involved and can probably provide a discount on the purchase of raw materials used in the manufacture of medical equipment such that the overhead cost that goes into manufacturing is reduced and ultimately this reduction may get applied on the patient’s bill as well. On the other hand, players in the field of medicine such as diagnostic centers and corporate hospitals can also do their own bit in helping the BPL population. They can identify ways that can reduce the overall cost of treatment and medicine. They can actively start using refurbished medical equipment which will be a cost saving factor for them as well.
Now one may have doubts over the use of refurbished products in place of brand new products. So, to clear all the questions in mind, let’s try to understand what refurbished products are and if they are safe to use. According to a new market research report, the refurbished medical equipment market will be worth 11.91 billion USD by 2021. Refurbished medical equipment is that medical equipment which received cosmetic changes to increase its appeal. In some cases, some of the refurbished medical equipment could have received a replacement of functional part to restore its full functionality. However, refurbished medical equipment are fully functional equipment like the original. They are actually beneficial to the buyers in a way as they reduce the overall cost of the product. Some of the companies may be hesitant to buy them considering the fact that cosmetic changes were made before their sale.
The refurbished GE Voluson P8 ultrasound color Doppler available online at Medventura with a minimum bid of Rs.16,00,000/- at the time of writing this article is a best example for this. The original price of the GE Voluson P8 Ultrasound Color Doppler may run into double the minimum bid mentioned above. However, we are getting a fully functional equipment for half of the original price. Adopting strategies such as buying of refurbished medical equipment will reduce the overhead costs of medical labs and corporate hospitals as well. Whatever saving the medical lab or corporate hospital is able to make, they can pass it on to BPL patients by providing them discount in the medical treatment or medicines.