After a major loss of face over exorbitant pricing of Covid-19 treatment by corporate-run Max Hospital in New Delhi, the healthcare chain has come up with a defence stating that per day treatment charges running into over a one lakh rupees a day, only apply to very critical Covid-19 patients.

After the Delhi State government made it mandatory for private hospitals to display their rate cards according to a particular format, the rate bouquet displayed by Max which is treating Covid-19 patients came under scanner. A committee appointed by the central government to look into high costs imposed by private hospitals headed by Vinod Paul, member, health, Niti Aayog is expected to submit its report on reserving 60 per cent private beds at lower rates, on June 15.

Packages for per day charges for Covid-19 management at Max, the rate card said, started with ₹25,090 for admission into a routine general ward, which increase to up to ₹27,190 on twin sharing purposes, and a patient ought to pay ₹30,490 for a private room, which is normally close to twice over rent, as compared to admission in a private room for a normal ailment or a procedure. For per day admission to Intensive Care Unit without a ventilator, Max charges ₹53,050 and along with a ventilator this spikes up to ₹72,550.

In a statement the hospital has said, “The costs shown on that poster include not only the room rent but also visits by resident medical officers, intensivists, senior consultants, nebulization and oxygen charges, all medicines and supplements needed for Covid treatment, all medical consumables, all routine pathology and radiology investigations such as X-ray, Ultrasound and ECG as well as diet and related charges.”

While all routine investigations are included in the package, the hospital rate card suggests that high-end tests, costs of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), complex procedures are being billed separately. The impression that the hospital rate card gives is that ‘package’ charges excludes all medicine costing over ₹75 per unit, COVID tests, and other lab investigations will be charged separately, as also ambulance transport will be billed atop these expenses, so also the treatment of co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, heart and kidney ailments and so on.

Cost of PPE varies from ₹39,00 to ₹7,900 depending on which ward the patient is admitted. A PET scan costs separate ₹27,600, while a chemoport insertion costs as much as ₹42,000 and so on.

The hospital has also stated, “For non-critical Covid patients, we have a range of options available across all price bands. For patients with moderate symptoms, Max Healthcare is managing a 150-room isolation facility at ITC Sheraton, Saket at ₹10,000 per day.”

Max states that it is running 1,000 Covid-19 beds and has treated 2,000 patients, with a staff of 1,970 healthcare workers in round-the-clock shifts. Up to 427 workers have contracted Covid over two and a half months and 3,220 staff have been quarantined in a staggered fashion.

The hospital stated that: “All hospitals handling Covid-19 patients have to maintain very high levels of infection control, deploy at least 2.5 times more staff (to account for temporary attrition because of quarantine and infection) and take care of their stay, food and medical care, if they fall sick. They also have to source high-quality PPE’s for healthcare workers (HCWs) on frontline duty. While the staff wears full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s), there is a possibility of being infected through an inadvertent exposure.”