Coronavirus is not taking mercy at India quite so soon. With over 2 lakh confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 7,000 people dead, the numbers only seem to be increasing by the day.
Hospitals are struggling with the high number of patients who are wanting to be admitted for either COVID-19 or some other serious illness.
Reports and statements have constantly been coming out on how hospitals are falling short of space and beds with more and more patients coming in with ailments.
To combat this, the central and state governments recently allowed private hospitals to also start COVID-19 treatments.
However, it seems that there are some issues coming up due to it, mainly related to the cost of treatment and whether a common person can really afford some of the high, exploitative rates being charged.
Are Private Hospitals Fleecing Money?
A circular from the Saroj Super Specialty Hospital and Saroj Medical Medical Institute, Rohini, dated 4th June has come out with extremely overpriced charges for treatment of the patients.
The price goes from Rs. 40,000 per day to a Rs. 1 lakh package on a per day basis. This is alarming to see since this hospital has been selected by the government itself to treat COVID-19 patients.
The circular also says that, “Rs 3 lakh will be the minimum bill irrespective of the number of days of stay or category of each patient.”
The last lines of the circular state that the circular is “as per the order by the management and for immediate implementation”.
The first charge as per the circular is for a two and three-bedded admission priced at Rs. 40,000 per day.
The second upgrades to a single room with private category services priced at a Rs 50,000 per day basis.
The next is Rs 75,000 per day for ICU services.
And the fourth package is for a whopping Rs 1 lakh per day for ICU with ventilator services.
The circular also states that a minimum amount of Rs 3 lakh will have to be paid by the patient “irrespective of the number of days/category of the patient”.
Furthermore, it also informed that “patient will be admitted only after an advance (payment) of Rs 4 lakh for admission in two- and three-bedded categories, Rs 5 lakh for single room and Rs 8 lakh for admission in ICU”.
But while the packages include things like stay, food, investigations, medicines, miscellaneous and NRI charges they don’t really add specialty and treatment charges.
Those will be added separately and will be twice of the hospital rate list, as per the circular.
After reports came out of this circular, Saroj Super Specialty Hospital posted a clarification about it on their Facebook page on Monday, saying that:
“It has been brought to our notice that an out of date circular which was for panel patients is being circulated on social media about charges of treatment for Covid-19 patients. We confirm that Covid patients’ admission started only from June 8 and they are being charged as per the revised treatment cost declared by the government of Delhi on June 6. We at ‘Saroj’ encourage treatment at home and have offered a package less than Rs 1900 per day including Covid kit. We urge you to not believe in hearsay.”
M. Khajuria, executive director of the hospital, told The Hindu, “We have issued another circular on June 6 and we have revised the rates. These are not the current rates.”
However, as per their report, they have not received the revised rates despite several calls and messages.
According to a report by Hindustan Times, when they called the hospital reception they were told that an advance of Rs. 1.5 lakh would be needed before admitting a patient for COVID-19 treatment.
Another person actually shared a horrifying incident about their experience at Medanta.
This woman shared what she had to go through when trying to get a simple blood procedure done for her son.
Read More: Take A Look At The Pitiable Fruits And Vegetables We’re Getting In Chennai During Lockdown
What Is Govt. Doing?
6th June Delhi Chief Minister (CM), Arvind Kejriwal had spoked about how strict action would be taken against private hospitals if they were found to be refusing COVID-19 patients or part of “black-marketeering” of beds.
According to reports of his online press briefing, he was quoted saying that,
“False refusal cannot be tolerated and admitting coronavirus patients is non-negotiable … There are some private hospitals which are resorting to such means. First, they say they don’t have bed and when patients insist, they demand a huge amount. Isn’t this black-marketeering of beds? … I am warning those who think they will be able to do black-marketing of beds using the influence of their protectors from other parties, you will not be spared.”
As per TOI, a cardiologist and former president of Indian Medical Association (IMA), Dr. K.K. Aggarwal commented on how the Delhi government should have fixed a price for all hospitals to charge during this pandemic.
This is something that the Tamil Nadu government has gone ahead and done.
As per reports, State Health Department of Tamil Nadu has released three different types of maximum daily tariffs that private hospitals can charge for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
These hospitals have further been divided into two categories, Grade A1/ A2 and Grade A3/A4.
Grade A1 and A2 hospitals can charge a maximum of Rs. 7,500 on a per day basis to COVID-19 patients who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms in the general ward.
For the general ward of Grade A3 and A4 hospitals for these same type of patients, the charge is Rs. 5,000 per day.
If the patient has to be admitted to the ICU the price cannot exceed Rs. 15,000 a day regardless of which category the hospital belongs to.
However, the government tariff while covering the cost of basic medicine and PPE costs, would not be sufficient for expensive drugs for terminal patients as per Dr. T.N. Ravishankar, who runs a hospital in East Tambaram, Chennai.
This is certainly something that all state governments and central too for that matter should figure out and settle so that the common person is not swindled in this time of crisis.
This pandemic should not be made into a money spinning opportunity for some, at the cost of lives especially.
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