Mumbai: Private hospitals will now have to treat COVID-19 patients at reasonable rates, and cannot charge them whopping amounts as per their whim and fancy. Acting on a slew of complaints from patients, the state health department has finally put a cap on the amount that private hospitals can charge COVID-19 patients, with a government resolution (GR) expected to be issued soon.
As per the new notifications the state government is coming out with, private hospitals can charge Rs 8,000 and Rs 9,000 for ICU and ventilators, respectively, per day. The bill will include the cost of treatment, Personal Protective Equipment, nurses and doctors consultancy fees. Apart from this, the mark-up on expensive medicines has been capped at 10 per cent of the procurement rates, and the hospital cannot charge the patient more than the maximum retail price (MRP).
This will bring much-awaited respite for COVID-19 patients, who will not be forced to shell out hefty amounts running into several lakh of rupees to get treated in private hospitals. They can expect to be treated in private hospitals by paying a few thousands only.
The Free Press Journal was the first to highlight the plight of patients who were forced to pay lakhs together for availing COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals.
Dr Sudhakar Shinde, chief executive of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY), said they had received several complaints against private hospitals for charging patients exorbitant rates, following which notifications were issued to rein them in.
“We will be issuing the notifications today (Thursday), in which we have mentioned charges such as Rs 4,000 for general beds, followed by Rs 8,000 for ICU and Rs 9,000 for ventilators beds. The charges will be applicable to all private hospitals in the state,” he said. Patients have complained hospitals are overcharging for medicines and consumables, prompting the govt to issue a notification stating private hospitals cannot charge over 10% higher than the procurement rates for the items.
“If the MRP of the medicines is Rs 100, and the hospital has procured it at Rs 60, then, with a margin of 10%, they have to charge Rs66. If any hospital fails to follow the rules, stern action will be taken against the administration,” Dr Shinde added. The Association of Private Hospitals said it did not wish to comment on the issue at this stage. “We have not received any notifications from the state govt till now. We will comment only after getting it,” said one of the members.