Updated: June 19, 2020 7:06:43 pm
The Ministry of Home Affairs has capped the treatment cost of Covid-19 for private hospitals in the national capital. The decision was based on suggestions by a committee led by NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul, along with representatives from the Delhi government and AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria. The move is expected to provide relief to patients. A look at what is expected to change:
What’s the new cap on private hospitals?
The committee has fixed the charges for isolation beds and ICU facilities with and without ventilators. The new treatment costs will include PPE charges, which would play a key role in adding to the medical bill. As per the new recommendations, a hospital will now charge Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000 per day for an isolation bed, Rs 13,000-15,000 for ICU without ventilator support, and Rs 15,000-18,000 for an ICU with ventilator.
Earlier, hospitals were charging Rs 24,000-25,000 for an isolation bed, Rs 34,000-43,000 for ICU without ventilator, and Rs 44,000-54,000 for ICU with a ventilator, excluding PPE charges.
How long does a hospital stay usually last for Covid? What could a patient’s bill look like now?
At present, those with moderate and severe symptoms of Covid-19 are admitted to hospitals for further treatment. The stay in the hospital depends on the severity of the disease.
For instance, a patient with moderate symptoms usually stays between 7-10 days while one with severe symptoms may end up staying up to a month.
With the cap on the treatment cost, the medical expense for a patient will be reduced significantly. Where a week’s stay in an isolation bed at a private hospital would earlier cost Rs 1,68,000- 1,75,000 for a patient, the new charges should restrict the cost to Rs 56,000-Rs 70,000.
What prompted the government’s decision?
Over the last few days, families of several Covid-19 patients have accused private hospitals of charging exorbitant amounts for treatment of the disease. In many cases, families do not have medical insurance, making treatment out of reach for a large section of the population.
While charges vary from one hospital to another, some hospitals were charging up to Rs 25,000 per day for a bed in the general ward, Rs 30,000 for a private room, and Rs 72,000 for a bed in the ICU. In some instances, the treatment cost for a Covid patient would touch Rs 1 lakh a day.
Hasn’t this been a bone of contention between Delhi government and private hospitals as well?
Yes, the Delhi government had already asked all private hospitals to prepare and provide a list of prices of general and isolation wards, ventilator support, PPE kits, central line insertion, biopsy, Covid testing, CT scan, MRI, etc, amid complaints of overcharging by hospitals.
But the private hospitals have repeatedly issued clarifications to try and justify the expenses.
Do private hospitals have the leeway to charge above the cap even after this move?
Private hospitals claim that the charges suggested by the committee are not in line with suggestions made by them to the experts. Hospitals said they were waiting for detailed guidelines to understand the new charges.
Even after the caps are enforced, hospitals can still charge more, for example by increasing the fee charged by medical professionals, diagnostic costs, and expenses for laboratory services. A representative of a private hospital said: “All hospitals had suggested a clear break-up of treatment cost for isolation beds and ICUs. The charges suggested by the committee are not feasible. We are waiting for a detailed order after which we will revise the packages.”
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