Capping Covid cure cost

Haryana cuts exorbitant rates, Punjab must follow suit

Capping Covid cure cost

Even as the treatment of Covid-19 patients in government hospitals is free of cost, private hospitals across the country have been fleecing patients, forcing the authorities to curb the loot by regulating their costs of cure. This intervention by the state assumes significance in view of the unabated rise in coronavirus cases and the reports of poor patients running from one hospital to another in quest of beds and cure. The financial burden on an afflicted family generally swells as the disease, being contagious, quickly spreads among kith and kin. Haryana has done well to follow the Niti Aayog recommendations and cap the fees in various slabs of treatment in private hospitals. Depending on the type of ward (general, ICU, AC, non-AC) and the requirement of oxygen or ventilator, the ceiling of Rs 10,000 to Rs 18,000 per day has been fixed for private hospitals. It is a huge relief from the prohibitively exorbitant Rs 35,000 to Rs 70,000 charged per day for an ICU bed with ventilator in the state currently. With many patients needing hospitalisation for a week and upwards, the steep bills were indeed back-breaking.

It is time the Punjab Government too acted fast on its promise of making the private treatment cost for Covid patients reasonable by rationalising the rates. Most states have, in a welcome development, fixed the test fees charged by private laboratories for a suspected Covid case between Rs 2,000 and Rs 2,400. A nearly 50 per cent cut in the cost was accorded to the common man as he accrued the benefit of the now cheaper indigenously manufactured and readily available Rt-PCR testing kits.

The private sector had been co-opted into fighting the pandemic as government facilities ran short of beds and equipment. Private players must live up to the role and responsibility expected of them during this time of unprecedented hardship. Sri Guru Ram Das Charitable Hospital Trust, Amritsar, is an example with its Rs 50,000 fee for a seven-day package for twin-sharing AC rooms. The government must remain vigilant against profiteering and ensure that no patient suffers for want of affordable care.

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