People question government’s inaction against hospitals which continue to charge high prices
In their desperation to save lives of their loved ones gasping for breath, family members are forced to shell out anywhere between ₹ 50,000 to ₹ 1 lakh for immediate admission of COVID-19 patients into ICUs.
There are several tragic accounts of people spending their decades of savings on treatment at corporate and private hospitals in the second wave. In some cases, they are forced to do this as major government hospitals are full in current times. The exorbitant charges by private hospitals was called out by Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender at a press conference held in Hyderabad on Tuesday evening. He reminded that the charges for treatment decided by the State government are still applicable, including the charges for COVID-19 tests too.
Stuck in a helpless situation, anxious and angry, people who spent lakhs of rupees questioned what action will be taken against the hospitals charging exorbitant amounts since the hospitals continue to charge high prices. Besides, several families were informed by private hospitals that they have to pay ₹ 50,000 to ₹ 1 lakh before admitting a patient. They were also asked to clear the bills daily.
According to the government order issued on June 15, 2020, the charges for treatment in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) without mechanical ventilator support is ₹ 7,500 per day. The charges are ₹ 9,000 per day if a patient is provided with the ventilator support in ICU. However, some services or products are excluded from the capped prices such as medicines, diagnostic tests.
On December 21, 2020, the State government had slashed prices of RT-PCR tests at lab to ₹ 500, and ₹ 750 if samples are collected from home. However, many private hospitals and labs are not sticking to the prices. There is heavy demand for the tests at private labs too.
To lodge complaints, the State Health department suggested people to call at ‘104’ or contact on Whatsapp at 9154170960. However, highly placed sources in the Health department said that the charges are not practical for corporate hospitals considering the quality of the services provided there.
Mr Rajender said that though they can send teams and lock hospitals violating norms, they do not follow this strategy. Rather, he said that harassing people for business will not be tolerated in these tough times. “We have a duty to save lives,” he said, adding that some resources are being provided to private hospitals too.
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