A multi-layered nexus between doctors and medical centres “running into crores” was unearthed through several documents by the Income-tax Department during its raids at a few in-vitro fertilisation IVF clinics and diagnostic centres in Bengaluru on Saturday said a report. The raids seem to have blown the lid off a doctor-diagnostic centre nexus. Tax officials also found an undisclosed income of Rs 100 crore during the searches. The department claimed that the doctors were being “paid for referring medical tests”.
This raid comes after searches were conducted in Bengaluru and Tamil Nadu. According to an official of the IT department, the commission varied from lab to lab. “The referral commission for doctors varied but the commission for doctors was found to be around 35% on an average for an MRI test and 20% in case of a CT scan or any laboratory test,” added the IT official, as per a report by the Newsnation. These payments are found to be disguised as “marketing expenses.”
“Referrals” paid to the doctors
“While the lab searches have declared an undisclosed income of over Rs 100 crore, the amount of referral fee in case of a single lab is more than Rs 200 crore“, the IT department said in a statement. A senior official told that according to income tax findings, these medical centres had devised at least four methods to pay the “referral fees to the doctors.” This includes a fortnightly cash payment and advanced cash payment.
In some cases, referral fee paid to the doctors by cheque was shown in books as “professional fee”. As a part of the deal, the doctors were employed as in-house consultants. However, they neither come to diagnostic centres nor see patients nor write reports. This is the payment which is disguised as the referral fee.
The department claimed that the referral fee was paid to the doctors in cheques under “revenue sharing agreements.” Some of the labs also employ commission agents who deliver these cheques to the doctors in envelopes. These agents insert a small chit in the envelopes while giving it to the doctors. These chits contain the details – names of the patients referred by the doctor, doctors name, a name of the tests were done, amounts billed and the cut/commission. The IT officials also noted that the doctors are very particular about the amounts: where they did not get their due, they would return the envelopes. The dispute would later be settled with the labs.
A senior IT official said, “We are also investigating various expenses to see if more such payments have been made.”
The Logical Indian take
The Logical Indian community condemns the malpractices of the labs in paying hefty referral amounts to the doctor. This corporate nexus reveals the malpractices within the doctor-lab nexus. The profession of doctors is known to be one of the noblest professions. The doctors are equally at fault where they prescribe tests worth exorbitant amounts to the patients and in turn earn hefty amounts of “referral” from the laboratories. The Logical Indian urges the government and the concerned authority to look into the matter and ensure that the ones who are guilty are booked.