Patients are suffering as they are not able to bear the cost of knee operations provided by government hospitals.
Patients below the poverty line have to pay high charges for knee replacements despite promises to the contrary by the previous government. Former Health and Family Welfare minister, Mr KR Ramesh Kumar had made a statement in 2018 that all government hospitals will offer Total Knee Replacement (TKR) surgeries for free and even after applying through Arogya Karnataka Scheme most patients have to pay for the replacements.
Mr. Manjunath, who had knee surgery for both his knees done at Sanjay Gandhi Institute of Trauma and Orthopaedics said that even after applying through a Below Poverty Line (BPL card) , he had to bear a lot of expenses. “It is not just the surgery that costs a lot, it is the before and after surgical expenses along with the expenses on medication which turns out to be a burden,” he added.
Mr. Ram Murthy, a 75-year-old osteoarthritis patient said, “The doctor prescribed surgery but the problem is that it is very hard for me to bear the cost of Rs 13,000. Even after using the BPL card I probably have to take a loan which I do not know how I will be able to repay back.” Murthy also said that he used to work as a labourer before but now he is totally dependent on his son who doesn’t give him any financial support.
The cost of knee surgery is relatively less in government hospitals. Dr Deepak, Medical Superintendent at Victoria Hospital said, “The cost of knee surgery in private hospitals starts from Rs 2 lakh, but we are still charging very low prices and we are in the process of getting cheaper implants from the government therefore there is a high chance that in the future the surgery will be cheaper.”
Dr. Deepak added that the cost of surgery depends on various things such as the stay of the patient in the hospital, the implants the patient chooses, medication according to individual health, etc. But, if the patient applies through Below Poverty Line (BPL) card then the cost comes out to be far much lower.
Meanwhile, another patient Mr M.Arif said that he got his surgery done at Victoria Hospital, Bangalore in late 2022 but his pain got severe after the surgery. “I thought the pain was normal because of recent surgery so I waited for longer than I should have for the pain to get over, the doctors afterward told me that they needed to perform a revision surgery as the implant was not settled properly,” said Mr Arif. He added that for the first surgery, he spent more than Rs. 25,000 and to bear the cost of the second surgery which turned out to be Rs. 23,000 after adding all the hospital expenses his wife had to sell her only gold ring.
Dr. Ashish Jain a senior orthopedic surgeon at Max Hospital and an expert in TKR surgeries said that osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that causes wear and tear of knee cartilage as age increases, “but nowadays we are also observing osteoarthritis in the younger generation too; the risk factors can be sedentary lifestyle and obesity,” he said.
He further explained, “The cost of any surgery is expensive if you see the ground reality but we should also see that if we compare India with the world then the prices here are far too low,be it a government or a private hospital than it is in rest of the world.”
Mr Madhusudhan program officer, department of Health, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) said, “We are working with hospitals in implementing various schemes which will bring down the costs.”