Sunday, June 19, 2011

Healthcare in Hyderabad

While sitting through on boarding last week I was shocked to discover what my company sponsored "insurance plan" did and more importantly, did not offer. I put "insurance plan" in quotes because there were no mentions of well visits or preventative care. No annual physicals covered or vision and dental plan. They way I understood it, I was getting 1.5 lakhs (approx $3300 USD) of coverage that could be used only in the event of a 24+ hour hospital stay. On a bright note, the "plan" also lacked monthly premiums.

I admit, I panicked. I've never been one to run to the doctor at the earliest sign of a sniffle, but having good insurance coverage is peace of mind. I've always availed the buy-up plan, the extra add-ons, and any other extra cushion offered. It didn't look like there were any other cushions being offered here.

A co-worker had been experiencing some stomach discomfort and mentioned going to the hospital this weekend. I was shocked thinking how awful the pain must be go to the hospital instead of just visiting a Dr's office. What about the cost? He explained because the hospital had walk-in care, there was no reason to worry about scheduling an appointment or the severity of the condition and availing walk in care was certainly a convenient option. I asked to tag along.

We visited Image Hospital, located in Madhapur. They advertise that no one is too poor to avail their extensive list of specialty care options, which range from Dermatology to Orthopaedics and everything in between.

We walked into a huge and rather barren seating area. We approached the main desk next to which was a chart clearly stating all of the standard fees associated with the various services offered. To the left you'll see the fee schedule for an overnight hospital stay based on the type of room you'd like.

The clerk took only the necessary information: Name and Phone number. There was no mention of seeing an insurance card or verifying a referral. They did, however, ask if we could pay the consultation fee for the Emergency Care doctor. The fee was Rs 275 ($6.00 USD). Upon paying that, we were issued a receipt and immediately taken back to see the doctor who was waiting in the room for us. There was no 20 questions game played with the nurse, no describing the symptoms to her only to have to describe them to the doctor later. The doctor asked a few questions followed by a full physical examination then provided some recommendations as well as a few meds to get my friend back on track.

Leaving the exam room, we walked just ten steps to the pharmacy where we were immediately given the meds the doctor recommended which came to an additional Rs 200 ($4.50 USD) and we were on our way. The entire visit from walk in to walk out was short of 30 mins and cost just over $10.00 USD with no insurance necessary.

When I returned home, I visited the hospitals website and was shocked to see a scroll bar on their home page listing prices for many of their services. They put it right out there for you to see. Nothing hidden. No fear of how much the bill is going to be. Just an easy to follow, clearly labelled fee schedule. See for yourself here:

I must say this eased my mind regarding my current "insurance plan." The facility was excellent, the exam thorough, and the entire experience convenient and worry free.

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