If you spend more money on a phone or a house, you tend to get a faster and more modern phone or a better house, but that’s not the case when it comes to medical care. Spending more doesn’t always mean you will get better health care.
Simon (not real name) attended a city top private hospital complaining of mild fever and headache. He was recommended to do a Malaria test. Hospital A was charging Ksh 300 while B (the city's top private hospital) was charging 3000. After conducting the test in both laboratories, the results were the same. Done by the same technique, with qualified technologists registered under the national registration board, and the results from Hospital A came out faster than B. If you are a patient, don’t just assume that because this practice is more expensive, the care is going to be better. Don’t enroll in an expensive gym or fitness program thinking they will artificially transform your body to your desired shape, even a home fitness program can be more effective if you are committed.
In Africa, the bigger the hospital, the most expensive the healthcare services. The widespread conception that expensive health care is the best and leads to better outcomes for patients is not always the truth, and it does not benefit patients. Price is not always a definitive signal of quality. Most of the hospitals overcharge due to demand and brand market command that they are the best.
In Kenya, many people underrate the services or products of government public hospitals because they are cheap, but paying less for hospital care doesn't necessarily mean you get lower-quality care. Some clinics charge expensive fees only to outsource their services to others. Laboratory services prizes are hiked, but only to be outsourced to a different laboratory. It is not always a bad practice, but when it comes to overcharging for discounts, why not refer the patients to a cheaper place?
A small hospital or health center can offer quality, fair, and fast health services than most big hospitals. The few patients’ numbers they deal with make their services individual-centered and service delivery fast and of high quality. Most of the big hospitals in Africa attend to many patients, overstretching the available resources, leading to poor service delivery.
There is no connection between price and the quality of care. Some hospitals have high charges, not clearly defined, hidden charges, especially when payment is through private insurance or cash. In small care centers, a patient will spend a shorter time in waiting rooms before seeing a doctor and there is better care coordination, management, and service delivery.
Public and private health stakeholders and investors should aim at cutting patient spending on health matters while improving the value of care to achieve universal health coverage. Government efforts towards universal health coverage should be championed by private health sector cooperation towards affordable health for all.