Easy access to qualitative healthcare in India has always been a problem. While government hospitals are hurdled with the underprivileged, private hospitals get extremely costly.
That’s exactly what is happening with the Covid-19 treatment also. The bills for the treatment are too expensive particularly in the private hospitals.
What inflates Covid-19 treatment bills in private hospitals are the inflated charges for protective gear and separate charges for bio-waste disposal. The additional charges for the bio-waste disposal seems to be confusing because the hospitals had been producing the bio-wastes even before, why is it added as an extra charge?
With many patients being admitted for 10-15 days, the costs add up and bills of ₹4 lakh to ₹16 lakh have been shed off from the patients’ pockets. The problem with the overpriced consumables and medicines is that even though the hospitals procure it at a fraction of the MRP, the patients are charged the MRP only.
Common investigations like a liver function or kidney function test, which costs ₹400-800 at best in independent labs, are being billed ₹3,000-3,500. Similarly, procalcitonin, a test to check for bacterial infections, costs ₹1,100-3,600 in an independent lab but can cost an inpatient ₹5,500 to over ₹9,500. The pattern holds for tests, big or small.
With each patient needing 3-5 Covid tests, hospitals are charging the maximum allowed, ₹4,500, though it has become evident the actual cost could be less than half.
Talking of the medicines, meropenem, a high-end antibiotic is procured by hospitals for ₹500-900 per gram and charged at the MRP of ₹3,330 per gram with a patient requiring 2-3 grams in a day, adding thousands to the bill each day. The margins taken by hospitals on medicines can be as high as 500% and on consumables even higher than 1,000%.
While private hospitals have always been benefiting out of people’s misery, Covid-19 is no exception. Instead, there are added charges in the name of isolation. Patients are being charged for first class single room or even for single deluxe room.
Chest CTs are being insisted upon. Despite being stable, many are being put in ICUs where charges are significantly higher.
No rational or standard guidelines are being followed on how many times patients need to be tested or in making them repeat tests when admitted even if they already have the result. When a patient ran up a bill of ₹80,000 within eight hours of being admitted, it was a shocker even by standards of private hospitals.
While the good quality PPE kits could cost ₹800-Rs 1,200 to a hospital, patients are being charged ₹2,200 per PPE kit. With rational use and if the PPE cost is spread over the many patients admitted, it would add up to about three PPE per patient, which hospitals are charging at MRP.
Not just that, the hospitals have also added costs for ‘care and hygiene’, for ‘Covid bio medical waste disposal’ and for a Covid resident medical officer of ₹3,500 a day.
Source: The Times Of India