Kerala capped treatment costs for Covid-19 at private hospitals Monday after several public complaints over exorbitant rates being charged at such hospitals.
The rate for a bed per day in the general ward of an NABH-accredited hospital cannot exceed Rs 2,910 and Rs 2,645 in a non-NABH hospital as per the government order. In high-dependency wards in NABH hospitals, the rate is Rs 4,175 and Rs 3,795 in non-NABH hospitals.
For ICU beds, the rates for NABH and non-NABH hospitals cannot exceed Rs 8,580 and Rs 7,800 respectively. For beds with ventilator support, the maximum rates are Rs 15,180 and Rs 13,800 for NABH and non-NABH hospitals respectively.
These rates would be inclusive of registration, doctors charges, oxygen, anesthesia, blood tests, X-ray, nursing and boarding. However, high-end tests like CT chest and HRCT along with costs for medicines like remdesivir and tocilizumab are not included in the rates. Still, the hospitals cannot charge over and above the MRP of these medicines and the normal rates for the tests. The rate for RT-PCR tests will continue at Rs 500.
If hospitals end up imposing charges above the government-prescribed rates, they would attract a penalty 10 times higher than the patient’s charge, the government order stated.
The Kerala High Court Monday orally asked all private hospitals providing Covid-19 treatment to abide by the rates prescribed by the government or else face action. It slammed hospitals for indulging in profiteering during a pandemic.
Citing a report of a private hospital purportedly having charged a patient Rs 1300 for a bowl of kanji, or rice gruel, Justice Devan Ramachandran said, “Our humble kanji is being charged Rs 1,300. If kanji is charged Rs 1,300, we may find it difficult to swallow.”
The bench of Justices Ramachandran and Kausar Edappagath said it found bills of hospitals charging Rs 25 for a paracetamol and Rs 22,000 for PPE kits. It underlined that people cannot be charged on the basis of whether they are rich or poor during a pandemic.
To address complaints of exorbitant costs, an appellate authority composed of members including doctors has been formed.
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