Mumbai: Faced with complaints from patients about overcharging by private hospitals for both, coronavirus testing and treatment, the BMC has decided to cap treatment charges of coronavirus patients at private hospitals.
The overcharging occurs because there is no restriction on charging for medicines or personal protective equipment, which hospitals are adding to the patient's bill.
Civic officials said they would be meeting with the CEOs of private hospitals to address this issue. On March 20, the BMC had directed all private hospitals to charge Rs 4,500 or 50 per cent of the total bill for a bed, but it is learnt that hospitals are charging Rs 30,000 per day.
Though the BMC has directed private hospitals to charge Rs 4,500 for treatment, when I received the bill, I saw additional charges for safety kits and the total bill came to Rs 30,000, said a patient.
Additional Municipal Commissioner (health) Suresh Kakani said there will be a meeting with the chief executive officers of the private hospitals, to address this issue.
There are also complaints of private laboratories overcharging for testing, Kakani said. We have received several complaints and are inquiring into the matter. We will shortly hold a meeting, where we will decide on a standardised price for corona treatment at private hospitals, he said.
Private hospitals justify their billing, saying they have to buy PPE costing around Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500 each and can only be used for only 4-6 hours. We don’t get PPE free of cost and must use fresh PPE for every new patient. If the BMC is willing to provide us with this gear for free, this can be deducted from the bill, said doctors.
Abhijeet More, co-convener, Jan Arogya Abhiyan, said the BMC should crack down on private hospitals for overcharging patients in a pandemic. “We can understand that hospitals are facing losses during this time but that does not mean they make up for these losses by making patients foot the extra charge. The BMC should take a decision on the matter,” he said.