Mumbai, June 6:
Despite a price cap imposed by the state government on private hospitals treating Covid-19 patients, some of the hospitals in Maharashtra have been charging exorbitant rates from patients, making their relatives run from the pillar to the post.
As per notification issued by Maharashtra government, private and charitable hospitals can charge up to R 4,000 for general ward and isolation, Rs 7,500 for ICU( without ventilator and isolation), and Rs 9,000 for ICU with ventilator and isolation. The services include nursing and bed charges, drugs consultation, tests like 2D Echo, X ray, bed charges among others.
However there are many examples of the exorbitant charges collected from patients by the private hospitals: Dr Vijaykumar S Gupta (57) was admitted to Ridddhi Vinayak Multi Speciality Hospital, Nalasopara (near Mumbai) on 7 May. He died on 19 May. The hospital presented him a bill of Rs. 9,61,729/- After a lot of arguments, the matter was settled for Rs.7.50 lakh.
Other cases- Shabana Ansari(61), basically a Parkinson’s patient, underwent treatment for COVID-19 in Saifee Hospital, Mumbai from 23April 23 to 03 May. The hospital handed over a bill of Rs 2.60 lakh to her brother M M Koor. The bill included Rs 27,000 for three PPEs (personal protective equipment) per day, meaning Rs 9,000 for one PPE. But a PPE kit does not cost more than Rs 1,000/-.
Some time back, Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital had charged between Rs 8,000 and Rs 9,800 for a PPE unit from Covid-19 patients. Usually, a PPE unit costs between Rs 350 and Rs 1,000, depending on its quantity. In another case, a person had complained that the same hospital charged Rs 16 lakh for the treatment of his father for 15 days, who later died of Covid-19.
Nuruddin Shaikh( 49) admitted to Noble Hospital, Hadapsar, Pune, from 25 April to 14 May, died on 14 May. The hospital initially charged Rs 7.90,406 and collected Rs.1,46,448 from his son Danish Shaikh on the spot. Remaining Rs.6,43,458 remained unpaid. Subsequently the hospital waived Rs 2.90 lakh, after Danish complained to Pune Collector and the state Health Department. Now the hospital is expected to collect balance bill from the medical insurance company.
Besides these complaints of over- charging by the hospitals, the complaints of the patients not getting admitted to the nearest hospital and even if are admitted, they not getting ventilators facilities are common. In a recent case, an aged woman Mangal Tajane, residing at Badlapur in Thane district, could not be admitted to any of the nearby hospitals in Badlapur, Kalyan and Dombivli area. Eventually after a lot of efforts she was admitted to BMC’s LTMG Hospital at Sion in Central Mumbai. By the time she was admitted several hours were lost. She was put on ventilator support but eventually succumbed on 3 June.
Under “Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojna” announced by the Government on First May this year, all COVID-19 patients across the state are supposed to get free treatment. But only 1000 hospitals fall under this scheme.
In the meanwhile the COVID-19 Response Task force,set up by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), an association of business organisations in India, with representatives from leading private hospitals in India, has suggested that the patients should be categorised as: those who do not require intensive care but must be kept in isolation (Isolation ward), Patients requiring intensive care but are not ventilated (ICU without ventilator) and Patients requiring intensive care and ventilator support (ICU with ventilator).
The Taskforce has recommended that a patient who is paying from out of pocket should pay Rs.17,000 per day for treatment in an isolation ward and Rs.45,000 per day for ICU (with ventilator). These rates include medicines, consumables and basic diagnostics, but exclude PPE costs, high end drugs and any co-morbidities. Also, these are indicative rates and there may be individual variations to the extent of 5-10 per cent.
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]