After receiving complaints of overcharging, the state government has formed a committee to fix rates for high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT), a test routinely done for Covid-19 patients to diagnose lung severity.
The four-member committee will decide the ceiling price for HRCT for private hospitals and laboratories. The current rate of an HRCT ranges from Rs 4,000, going as high as Rs 10,000 in the private sector. “We received several complaints regarding overpricing. Like for Covid tests and hospital bed rates, we decided to fix a price cap for this test,” said Dr Sudhakar Shinde, heading the committee.
HRCT is conducted at MRI and CT scan centres. The test serves as a tool to assess the extent of viral infection in lungs and damage to tissues to decide treatment line. Doctors are also using this test for suspected cases, who test negative for Covid-19 but have all classic Covid symptoms. The demand for HRCT has risen since last month with Maharashtra recording 20,000-25,000 new cases every day. Mumbai alone is recording over 2,000 new cases, and Pune around 1,200.
“At least 20 per cent of these patients develop symptoms and require hospitalisation. Most undergo HRCT. It gives a doctor clarity on what medicine to use,” an official said.
Committee members said they will take a few more days to fix pricing. With Covid-19 patients requiring a range of other tests, including D-Dimer, to rule out blood clots, Serum Ferritin to understand severity of infection, Interleukin-6 to assess a possible cytokine storm, and Procalcitonin test to assess susceptibility to other bacterial infections and sepsis, the out-of-pocket expenditure for patients even in government hospitals is rising.
The state government outsources a series of tests to HLL Life Care Ltd. Health officials said they are planning to include common tests required for Covid-19 patients in the outsourced list to reduce patient cost.
Discussion to outsource D-Dimer to private laboratories is underway. In several government hospitals in Satara, Kolhapur, Sangli, patients are asked to pay for these tests if the hospital does not have a facility to test.
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