Govt caps Covid treatment cost, private hospitals sore

Those infected with the novel coronavirus and looking to get treated at a private hospital will have to shell out Rs 1.50 lakh for 15 days in a general ward.

Published: 24th June 2020 06:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th June 2020 06:38 AM   |  A+A-

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Representational image (File Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Those infected with the novel coronavirus and looking to get treated at a private hospital will have to shell out Rs 1.50 lakh for 15 days in a general ward. The cost goes up to Rs 1.80 lakh in a high-dependency unit (HDU), Rs 2.25 lakh for an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Rs 3.75 lakh for an ICU with ventilator. However, the actual number of days a Covid-19 patient is admitted can be longer or shorter, depending on whether they are asymptomatic or symptomatic.

On Tuesday, the Karnataka Government capped prices of treatment cost at private hospitals based on two categories — those referred by public health authorities and the other who approach private hospitals directly. The package rates for Covid-19 patients referred by public health authorities, that is those covered under the Ayushman Bharat-Arogya Karnataka scheme, will be as Rs 5,200 per day for general ward, Rs 7,000 for HDU, Rs 8,500 for isolation ICU without ventilator and Rs 10,000 for isolation ICU with ventilator. The package ceiling rates at private hospitals for those who pay by cash will be Rs 10,000 per day for general ward, Rs 12,000 for HDU, Rs 15,000 for isolation ICU without ventilator and Rs 25,000 for isolation ICU with ventilator. These rates will not be applicable to patients subscribing to insurance packages.  

Pvt hospitals to seek revision of treatment rates

The government has stated that 50 per cent of beds in private hospitals shall be reserved for treatment of Covid-19 patients referred by public health authorities. The remaining can be used to admit Covid-19 patients privately. An additional 10 per cent extra will be charged for twin sharing, 25 per cent for single room while there will be no ceiling for suites. 

In case of unforseen complications, surgeries, co-morbid conditions, pregnancy, additional packages under Ayushman Bharat-Arogya Karnataka will apply. All Covid-19 patients, including those belonging to BPL, APL families, migrant workers, inter-state returnees not possessing PDS card shall be considered eligible in view of the unprecedented pandemic. There should be no compromise in the quality of services, the government ordered. However, private hospitals, both big and small, are unhappy with the rates and planning to appeal to the government to revise the rates.

Dr Nagendra Swamy, principal co-ordinator of the Federation of Healthcare Associations, Karnataka (FHAK) said, “We had given subsidised rates for Ayushman Bharat patients and they have accepted it. We do not mind that, as it is our contribution to society. However, there needs to be a better rate for cash patients. Unfortunately, the price has been reduced drastically, especially for ICU, and this will impact us. We will appeal for change in both categories for ICU charges.”  Dr Govindaiah Yatheesh, secretary of Private Hospital and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA), said, “We are really not happy with the prices.

We are going to ask the government to revise the rates. We are not looking at profits, but we need to have proper rates. There are high-end antibiotics and medications and these rates will not be enough. But we won’t stop treatment.” Public health experts too are unhappy with the capped rates, but for different reasons. Dr Sylvia Karpagam, public health doctor and researcher, said, “It is well known that these packages are not comprehensive and will require out-of-pocket payment for co-morbidities and complications.

For example, if a diabetic patient develops an injection abscess, it will not be covered by the ‘package’. This is deliberately left vague. The package incentivises  private hospitals to put people into ICUs and on ventilators only because the reimbursement is higher. It is not uncommon for patients to be ‘over-treated’ in such situations.” States like Maharashtra and Gujarat have already negotiated rates for various slabs of treatment with private hospitals. 


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