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Burden too high, private hospitals charging exorbitantly, claim COVID-19 patients

Financial distress has been one of the biggest impacts of the COVID 19-induced lockdown.

Published: 01st July 2020 06:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st July 2020 09:37 AM   |  A+A-

Doctor, Surgery, Medical Bill

A private hospital quoted Rs  50,000 per day for general ward and Rs 90,000 per day for the ICU. (Express Illustrations)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Financial distress has been one of the biggest impacts of the COVID-induced lockdown. Coronavirus patients find it difficult to bear the burden at private hospitals as the costs are exorbitant and even if they have the insurance, they are not sure how much of the treatment cost is covered.

For Raji (name changed), a pre-school owner, whose business has been drastically hit by the lockdown, the news of her husband, a cycle store owner, testing positive only increased her family’s hardship. Currently being treated at a private hospital as they could not find space in a government hospital, they had to pay up Rs  38,000 upfront to even admit him.

“The bill is Rs  1,78,000 for 10 days which is too expensive, and I am still not sure how much of it will be covered by the insurance. Depending on the treatment and the patient’s condition, the bill varies. If the government cannot provide beds at their own hospitals, they should allow asymptomatic patients to be home quarantined as we cannot afford this bill,” Raji said. While she has to pay her pre-school staff full salaries with PF and ESI benefits, the couple has a home loan to repay as well.

Sushma (name changed), a COVID-19 patient being treated at a private hospital, is one of the luckier ones as her company’s health insurance has agreed to bear the cost up to a certain amount. But it is still a costly affair, she said.

“As I have mild symptoms, I am staying in a twin-sharing room without oxygen or ventilator, which comes to Rs  12,000-Rs  14,000 per day. For 10 days, the total bill could go up to Rs  1.40 lakh. I am privileged enough to have an insurance cover, but what about others who do not,” she asked.

Dr Roohi, a member of NGO Mercy Mission, who was trying to help a COVID patient, said a private hospital quoted Rs  50,000 per day for general ward and Rs 90,000 per day for the ICU.

Last week, the government capped rates at private hospitals for cash patients per day at Rs 10,000 for general ward, Rs  12,000 for high-dependency unit, Rs 15,000 for isolation ICU without ventilator and Rs  25,000 for an Isolation ICU with ventilator.

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