Physicians Censure ‘Meager’ Tariff Hike

Physicians Censure ‘Meager’ Tariff HikePhysicians Censure ‘Meager’ Tariff Hike

The Cabinet has approved new tariffs for healthcare services in the current Iranian year (began March 20) for all public, private, and government sectors, said an official report by the Health Ministry.

A committee of senior ministers approved a 10% increase in tariffs for the current fiscal year in three areas as proposed by the Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRIMC), Management and Planning Organization, and insurance companies.

However, stating that the one-tenth hike is “small” compared with what they had recommended, members of the medical community conveyed their reactions to the Cabinet decision, said an article in the Persian language daily ‘Iran’.

In an official letter to first Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, IRIMC President Dr. Alireza Zali expressed the dissatisfaction among physicians regarding the small hike in tariffs.

“Since the IRIMC has done its best to increase medical tariffs and make it real, it would be irrational to expect the council to support the new tariffs, be it in the private or government sectors,” said excerpts from the letter, calling for an upward revision since “the Cabinet has the final word in the matter.”

According to Mohammad Jahangiri, IRIMC deputy for Tariff Supervision and Planning, details of the manner in which the increase will be allocated among various services will be decided by the Supreme Council of Insurance as per the type of services, and notified by the government.

“The IRIMC had recommended a 20% hike in medical tariffs, which is not a big amount,” he said, stressing that the increase was expected “to be at least on par with the hike in salaries of government employees (14% this year).”

The medical community’s argument is that the increase in tariffs is not in keeping with the inflation rates and the rising household expenses and prices of goods and services.

Jahangiri stressed that the quality of services must also be taken into account when fixing the tariffs.

“Nearly 60% of the budget in medical centers goes for paying salaries. If we have a budget deficit we will have to cut jobs, which by extension will reduce the quality of services,” he noted.

“It will harm the quality of services and even the food provided for patients.”

Dr. Alireza Oliayi Manesh, director general of the Standard Evaluation and Healthcare Tariffs Office at the Health Ministry, said the tariffs will be implemented by all sectors and “the necessary negotiations and revisions have already taken place.”

All hospitals must “compensate for their budget deficit from other resources” in order to prevent a decline in the quality of their services, he said. He did not specify from where the hospitals, already under pressure, could find the extra money.