The state government has fixed the ceiling price for High-Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) test, bringing down its cost by 60-70 per cent. The move is slated to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure of patients in the private sector.
HRCT test serves to assess the extent of viral infection in lungs and damage to tissues to decide further treatment line. For a machine with 16 slice (resolution) CT scan, the test cannot cost beyond Rs 2,000, for 16-64 slices the ceiling price is Rs 2,500 and for a machine with resolution above 64 slices, cost is capped at Rs 3,000. Since the outbreak began private laboratories are charging Rs 4,000-10,000 for an HRCT scan.
It is conducted at MRI and CT scan centres. Sometimes doctors use this test even before Covid test results come to assess clinical manifestation of the disease. With Maharashtra recording 20,000-25,000 new cases every day, and at least 20 per cent of those hospitalised and advised an HRCT scan, the number of tests have surged since July.
In Satara, social worker Pramod Patil said the test is costing Rs 4,000. “Cut practice has also become rampant as labs ask private doctors to refer patients to them,” Patil said. In Satara, however, government hospitals are providing the test free of cost. Some regions where rural hospitals do not have the facility, patients are referred to private labs.
Last week, the state appointed a four-member committee to study machine cost and profit margins and fix ceiling rates. Dr Sudhakar Shinde, head of the committee, said, “A 16 slice resolution machine costs Rs 50 lakh, one with 16-64 slices costs Rs 3 crore. We fixed rates for the test based on resolution capacity.”
With the new rates, the state has directed labs to conduct a full scan of lungs, mediastinum, bone window and not just lung scan.