How to set fees for your medical services that are ‘just right’

One of the great mysteries of medicine for patients is why doctors charge what they do. Some are amazed at the fact that bright young doctors are willing to work long hours for patients whom they do not know, for an income that is not bad, but that is much less than other professions such as bankers command.


Aniruddha Malpani, MD“Patients would be much happier if the medical costs were transparent.”
-Aniruddha Malpani, MD, medical director of Malpani Infertility Clinic in Mumbai, India


Patients admire the fact that doctors are willing to work for 24 hours at a stretch and that they sometimes get up at 2 in the morning for emergencies. It can be an arduous lifestyle that disrupts the physician’s personal life – something that you can’t compensate for even with money.

On the other hand, many patients also feel that doctors charge too much. They envy the Mercedes that some doctors drive and the fact that they might take off an occasional Wednesday to play golf. Many resent the fact that they have to pay hundreds of dollars for medical procedures that may take just a few minutes.

Also, it’s a well-known fact that the fees charged by doctors can vary considerably – not only from doctor to doctor – but from...

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9 Comments

  1. Mathew John
    Posted Nov 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Nice article. But still the answer remains elusive. How do u set your fees based on the expenditure that you incur ?

  2. Arvind Bhave
    Posted Nov 2012 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    @Mathew John Exactly! only one idea comes through. That of conducting a market survery – an informal one. How does one go about doing it? Since it is informal i suppose one doesn’t go to a market research organization. And i suppose one will have to do it anonymously. So the question still remains.

  3. Suprashant Kulkarni
    Posted Nov 2012 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    The articles speaks out our minds but the question remains unanswered ( as posted by Mathew John). May be its local body of doctors who can conduct a survey to know the peoples perception and set up minimum fees structure for all doctors including consultations, procedures, surgical procedures etc depending on the qualification of the dr, specialised trainings, fellowships, years of practice etc etc. Though all doctors may not abide by this structure , it will be a good guideline to those who wish to. Often doctors get underpaid in their initial years and thats when they need it the most.. to set up clinic, upgrade instruments, expertise upgradation etc.

  4. dr.rajeshkant mangatram
    Posted Nov 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    you should charge according to the paying capacity of clientage of your area & you should also renew your charges yearly.
    the best point suggested by the writer is, we should earn enough so that we can invest money into further enhancement of facilities for the patient.which is a win win situation.Many of our doctor friends even after earning good amount, don’t invest into our own profession & look out other avenues for investment where we have no control & we are at loss sometimes.

  5. malliakrjuna reddy
    Posted Nov 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    this article beats around the bush. no clarity of thought just written because it has to be written

  6. mdCurrent-India staff
    Posted Nov 2012 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Dear Doctors, thank you all for your comments. This article covers overall concepts in pricing your services – in the near future, you will also see articles here with more specific recommendations. Please feel free to continue posting questions and comments here, and we will try to include answers in future articles!

    Sincerely,
    mdCurrent-India Staff

  7. Rakesh Khera
    Posted Dec 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    There are no clear answers to this question. I guess one should charge as one pleases!

  8. Chandrakant Madgaonkar
    Posted Jan 2013 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    In the just bygone years of our profession, doctors in general, irrespective of their specialty, were collecting/ charging fees on a reasonable scale as, I suppose, there was an element of “ethics” prevailing in their practices. But with the advent of our “modern” and cut-throat practice, it’s now all gone in cold storage. Our leaders lecture on humanitarian services, but it’s all open to us what their “ulterior” motives are. As in any profession, the days of “survival of the fittest” are here to stay in our profession too, and with increasing local and “state” laws and regulations consuming doctor’s earnings, majority of us have to enhance our fees. However, it’s up to the individual to feel the “pulse” of their patients and charge accordingly, without compromising their professional standards.

    It may be pointed out here that, in Karnataka State, the health department has implemented a system of compulsorily displaying the professional charges of doctors in their clinics / hospitals, so that the patients are reasonably aware of their medical expenses. The doctor is free to charge and display their fees – there is no minimum or maximum limit; you may therefore charge the exact displayed sum, though in some deserving cases, many do scale down their fees, but not exceeding the max sum. I suppose, this system is beneficial to both doctors and patients, as the element of “unpleasantness” is reduced to the minimum.

  9. Posted Jan 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Yes – the whole point is that there are no right answers – every doctor needs to find what works best for them . I think it’s very naive unrealistic for anyone to expect that there is a standard formula for setting fees .

    There’s nothing wrong with charging “more” ! In fact, many patients feel that a doctor who charges more
    must be better

    Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD
    Malpani Infertility Clinic, Jamuna Sagar, SBS Road, Colaba
    Bombay 400 005. India
    Tel: 91-22-22151065, 22151066, 2218 3270, 65527073

    Helping you to build your family !

    My Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/Dr.Malpani

    You can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/drmalpani

    Watch our infertility cartoon film at http://www.ivfindia.com

    Read our book, How to Have a Baby – A Guide for the Infertile Couple,
    online at http://www.DrMalpani.com !

    Read my blog about improving the doctor-patient
    relationship at http://blog.drmalpani.com

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