Home Ministry panel recommends slashing Covid-19 treatment fees in private hospitals

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on June 19, 2020

A Central government committee appointed under the Ministry of Home Affairs has recommended that treatment charges for Covid-19 in private hospitals must be slashed by more than half in New Delhi. The recommendations arrive as India registers a record high of 13,000 new infections of the virus in one single day with Delhi recording 2,877 cases.

The expert committee chaired by VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog has recommended that, including the personal protective equipment donned by health workers, charges should be capped at ₹8,000-10,000 for an isolation bed from ₹24,000-25,000 charged by private hospitals excluding PPE.

Charges for ICU bed without ventilator is capped at ₹13,000-15,000 as compared with current prices of ₹34,000 to ₹43,000.

For ICU facility with ventilator facility the charge is set at ₹15,000-18,000 against the average price calculated by the committee which stood at ₹44,000-54,000 now.

An analysis of rate charts suggests that in a private hospital, bills for a single day admission with a ventilator can cost close to ₹1 lakh per day. For instance, Max Hospital charges over ₹70,000 for a ventilator bed in an ICU, while the Fortis group has said it charges over ₹20,000 for ICU bed with separate doctor charges, routine tests as well as overheads such as bedside procedures of central line insertion, nebulisation, ventilator charges for six hours at close to ₹2,000 and with some individual procedures charged up to ₹9,000.

Experts say that there needs to be clarity on what is excluded or included while capping the charges apart from specific mention of PPE and ventilators. “We do not know if rates subsume costs of managing co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, kidney, heart issues and so on as well as high-end medicines and lab investigations. The committee report should be made available to analyse this. Also, if Covid-19 patients are experiencing lengthy stays with need for oxygen and ventilator support. Even at these rates costs will not be affordable,” said Malini Aisola, co-convenor, All India Drug Action Network.

“The lower rates are suggested by the panel but they have not been finalised. The capping is much lower than what Association of Healthcare Providers and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry had suggested to the centre,” said HS Chabra, medical director, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in Delhi.

On June 19, Delhi government said that it will cap the prices of Covid-19 at ₹2,400 following the central committee recommendations, and Supreme Court has stated that all States should follow suit and cap test prices as in Delhi, Maharashtra, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.

Published on June 19, 2020

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor