With 80% of the coronavirus patients are being treated in Government Hospitals, some rich patients are availing treatment in Private Hospitals. Private hospitals are charging way too much fees for the treatment, even if you go for regular testing for the virus, you will come back with a heavily charged bill in your hand.
With the private hospital rates rolling in lakhs, the Supreme Court has taken certain steps to make the treatment accessible for the middle-class too. There is a set cap for the testing rate, i.e., Rs. 4,500, which was earlier around 6,000-10,000.
Private Hospitals include n number of things ending up by preparing multiple page bill. These things include the PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) Kit for the doctors, nurses, ward boys, or any other staff member working for taking the care of coronavirus patients, drugs used, room charges, test charges, etc.
What are private hospitals generally charging for coronavirus treatment?
If a patient goes private hospital for coronavirus test, it takes two days for the report to come so, the patient has to be in the hospital for two days in the isolation ward. With the testing costs, the cost of the ward, PPE kits costs for the staff member charged every day, which ranges from 4,000-5,000, the drug or medication used, doctor’s consultation charges are included and the total bill becomes of Rs. 60,000-70,000.
If in case the person has to be admitted in an isolation ward after being found coronavirus positive, then based on the ward they have to be kept in, the additional costs and the costs of multiple tests that are made the bill ranges from Rs. 3Lakhs to a whopping Rs. 17 Lakhs.
An average costs per day is around Rs. 3 0,000-50,000, subject to the conditions of the patients and the type of ward they are kept in.
Is the cost break up justified?
As stated, the bill includes costs of PPE kits, medications, bed costs, are these all justified? Is it right to charge for PPE Kits from all patients every day, when the same staff is treating them all? Agreed, the treatment requires utmost caution and that many members of the medical staff are also infected with the virus, but is it right to charge this much from a common person. With no government regulation over the price of equipment, the private hospitals are charging hefty fees for the PPE kits, some hospitals in Tamil Nadu charge around Rs. 2 Lakh let alone for the PPE Kit with other charges handing a total bill of Rs. 16 Lakh to the patient’s family, who once worked as a driver.
It is to be noted that not all hospitals charge the same, some charge less, some charge comparatively more. With no regulation issued, exploitation of common man who knocks the doors of private hospitals for more safety and extra-care they guarantee would continue, ultimately filling the pockets of the hospital owners.
Is there any step taken to have uniform prices at private hospitals?
Association of Healthcare Providers has come up with a plan of keeping uniform prices ranging from 15,000-30,000 per day for coronavirus treatment. For the growing number of cases, private hospitals have made infrastructural changes to accommodate more and more patients by incurring huge costs, now they require a sufficient amount to meet the price for the modifications they have done. So, by keeping in mind the needs of the hospital staff and owners and the patients, they have decided to fix rate of beds without oxygen around 15,000; with oxygen 20,000; isolation ICUs may charge around Rs. 25,000, with ventilator support around Rs 30,000, which can go up to Rs. 35,000; which do not include the costs of high-end drugs. Another proposal by FICCI has decided to keep fixed rates around 17,000-45,000 per day in their proposals sent to the Union Government.
Though these fixed rates will bring relaxations in some cities like Delhi, Mumbai, etc. these changes would deeply affect the patients seeking treatment in private hospitals of small cities and towns.
State Governments’ initiatives in this regard?
Many of the state governments have come up with proposals of fixing prices in private hospitals. They have started with fixing prices of face masks and gloves but other equipment and charges remain un-covered. Maharashtra and Rajasthan governments have taken steps to fix the maximum fees for the treatment of the virus in private hospitals.
Home-based treatment- new source of income
Nowadays, hospitals have come up with new packages for home-based treatment for patients with mild symptoms, which include doctor visits, proper supply of essential medications and conduction of regular tests. The basic packages start from Rs. 4,500 to a whooping rate of Rs 29,000. The price varies from cities to cities, but it is mostly near to the upper end.
What’s the best thing we can hope for?
With the government’s reply to Supreme Court saying that they can not, in any case, compel the private owners to provide free treatment to coronavirus patients, the best thing we can hope for is the government’ intervention in the regulation of prices, which are to be kept within the affordable reach of common people, in which the government can also contribute in the hospital bill, which is in a way not possible because they are already dealing with a large number of patients in government hospitals. So, a uniform price meeting everyone’s needs would be suitable. Because with no- caps the hospitals would continue to charge more and more and making it a new source of their income from the ‘extra-care essential’ items as stated in their long bills.