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Delhi govt asks all hospitals to share Covid-19 treatment charges amid high cost buzz

Amid a social media buzz over high cost of coronavirus treatment at a private facility, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Saturday said the government has sought fee details from all hospitals and will decide on “what to do” after overall observation.

Capping private hospital and ambulance charges and reducing cost of Covid-19 test will be discussed in a meeting of the DDMA to be attended by Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on June 16, according to a government notice.

The meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) will also have on its agenda ways to empower resident welfare associations, exploring possibility of using large blocks of vacant flats as makeshift Covid hospitals, drive through labs, telemedicine facility by panel of expert doctors.

The developments come amid a social media buzz over high cost of coronavirus treatment at a private facility, and the opposition BJP and the Congress too have requested the Lt Governor to put a cap on hospital fees for Covid-19 patients.

A rate card of Max Hospital had gone viral on social media on Friday with many users noting that the charges were too high for a common man.

The rate card showed that the facility was charging Rs 72,000 for an ICU with ventilator.

On its part, Max Healthcare, which runs the facility, said the viral rate card did not carry “all the facts such as inclusions of routine tests, routine medicines, doctor and nurse charges”.

Asked about capping fees being charged by private hospitals for Covid-19 treatment on Saturday, Jain said, “All the hospitals have been asked to share the rates that they are charging for coronavirus treatments. We will decide on what to do after observing every hospital.”

Delhi recorded 2,137 fresh coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest single-day spike, taking the Covid-19 tally in the city to over 36,000-mark, and the death toll due to the disease climbed to 1,214, authorities said.

After its rate card went viral, Max Healthcare tweeted, “A picture related to the pricing of Covid treatment at Max Patparganj (stated in some tweets as Max Gurgaon) is being circulated on social media. However, it did not carry all the facts such as inclusions of routine tests, routine medicines, doctor and nurse charges, etc.”

Max Healthcare also issued a statement saying that its Saket branch, which is a Covid only facility, has incurred a loss of Rs 6.5 crore.

The statement, however, did not refer to the rate card being circulated on social media.

“We are today running close to 1000 Covid beds and have so far treated over 2000 Covid patients. We have 1970 HCWs (healthcare workers) taking care of these patients round the clock, we had over 427 HCWs falling sick and admitted, we had 3220 staff quarantined, and intermittently off work over the last two-and-half-months, yet we continue to serve,” a senior director at Max Healthcare, who did not wish to be named, said.

The senior official also said the facility provides “research backed cutting-edge care and the outcomes are comparable to the best”.

“This does make Covid care expensive. However, the accusations of profiteering are completely wrong; our Covid only facility in Saket, which is fully occupied for the month of May 2020, incurred a cash loss of Rs 6.5 crore. This, when we had cut salaries of our senior clinicians and management by 20 to 50 per cent,” the official sad.

Max Healthcare has been serving patients from EWS sections (10 per cent) free of cost and serves CGHS, ECHS and other panel patients at subsidised pricing, where they have refused to even pay for the PPE costs being incurred by the hospital, the statement said.

The insurance and TPAs too have been dragging their feet on the reimbursement of these costs, it said.

“We are a privately invested organisation with finite resources, we have been at the forefront of the Covid-19 battle in the country and yet making huge losses. Clearly, from a financial point of view we cannot sustain operations,” the senior representative said.

Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor in a letter to Baijal on Saturday said that it was shocking to learn that medical bills of Covid patients with history of some other diseases is usually not less than Rs 7 lakh and runs up to Rs 15 lakh, and demanded price capping.

Delhi Congress vice president Abhishek Dutt said that exorbitant treatment cost cause unnecessary stress to the families battling the Covid-19 infection.

READ MORE | Coronavirus (Covid-19) tracker: State-wise data, daily trends, patients recovered, deaths and more

READ MORE | Why Delhiā€™s coronavirus spread has left other states alarmed

ALSO WATCH | Is there community transmission of Covid-19 in India?

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