NEW DELHI: Southern states, including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, topped the list of states where a large number of people took loans as they were unable to bear the burden of sky-rocketing expenditure of Covid-19 treatment. Uttar Pradesh led the list among northern states.
Data disclosed that a total 33,917 people from Tamil Nadu and 20,391 from Karnataka took loans for Covid-19 treatment. Similarly, 12,569 people from UP and 7,967 from Maharashtra also took loans for the same purpose. Total 1,33,080 people took loans for Covid treatment till July 15 this year.
While treatment of Covid-19 for many admitted in private hospitals ran into lakhs, public sector banks announced to provide unsecured loans of up to Rs 5 lakh to individuals to meet their and family members’ Covid-19 treatment cost. This came in the wake of the ongoing second wave of the pandemic that has swept across the country.
The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and SBI had announced that individuals including salaried, non-salaried and pensioners can avail unsecured personal loans from Rs 25,000 to Rs 5 lakh to meet Covid-19 treatment. The repayment tenure was five years and rate of interest was 8.5% per annum for SBI.
All existing customers affected with Covid-19 were eligible to avail this collateral-free loan facility from PSBs in the form of a term loan, with repayment periods ranging from three to five years and an initial repayment moratorium period ranging from three to six months.
People had to take loan amid numerous complaints of overcharging by private hospitals during Covid waves in 2020 and 2021. The Supreme Court in an order on December 19, last year took strong note and commented, “Even if one survives from Covid-19, many times financially and economically he is finished. Therefore, either more and more provisions are to be made by the state government and the local administration or there shall be cap on the fees charged by the private hospitals, which can be in exercise of the powers under the Disaster Management Act.”
Many states had to step in to regulate the prices following the Court’s directions. In Delhi, High Court during May had directed the Delhi government to convene a meeting with the administration of several hospitals and decide on the rationalisation of the charges.
Many states including Karnataka, Odisha, Telangana, UP and a few others capped the prices for Covid treatment at the private hospitals, however, that could not come as much of the help.