Around Rs 20.81 crore was reduced from patients bills between July 2020 and September 2021, reveals a BMC’s audit report. Of this, Rs 2.73 crore was deducted after auditing 405 complaints of overcharging. Moreover, they have also audited 30,660 bills from 35 private hospitals, worth Rs 503 crore.
This comes after the BMC received complaints of patients being overcharged for Covid-19 treatment by private hospitals since the pandemic. Following which, the BMC had appointed 70 auditors for all 35 private hospitals to ensure that patients are not overcharged, get beds and hospitals follow discharge policy. Senior health officer who are part of the audit team appointed to check inflated bills said there were 405 complaints of overcharging which were scrutinized. They have also refunded Rs 2.73 crore to patients. “These were almost all the bills generated by private hospitals between July 2020 and September 2021. In these cases, around Rs 18.09 crore was either reduced or refunded by hospitals. Totally, we have refunded or reduced around Rs 20.81crore,” said the officer.
Additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said that civic auditors had reviewed all the complaints. “Now there are very few cases of inflated bills or private hospitals overcharging. Patients have been sending their bills and complaints by email too. The appointed officers are reviewing the bills and taking appropriate action. Bills can be sent even after payment and if there is any error or overcharging, patients can be refunded by the hospital,” Kakani said.
Senior civic officials said that in some cases private hospitals had come up with innovative charges like care and hygiene charges, staff management charges and N-95 allocation charges to inflate bills. Moreover, as the government capped the price on some billing components, hospitals added new ones, said auditors appointed by the BMC.
“Where the government could regulate prices, it did, but components like medicines and investigations are left to the doctor’s discretion. In this, we find hospitals overcharging. If one drug is injected, hospitals charge for the entire strip; if one PPE (personal protective equipment) by doctors or nurses is used for 10 patients in a ward, each patient is billed for a piece instead of the cost being divided,” said one of the auditors.
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