Recently, the Delhi government had raised a demand that a committee should be set up to monitor rates of treatment at private hospitals as there were reports of some private hospitals charging exorbitant rates for treating COVID-19. On Monday, the Union health ministry directed the states to fix a price for coronavirus disease treatment in private hospitals.
This was done following reports of private hospitals looking at the pandemic as a money-making opportunity.
The health ministry stated in a statement that rates must be fixed and publicised so that there is no confusion for patients as well as service providers. Consultations should be initiated with the local private healthcare providers and reasonable rates should be decided.
Private hospitals overcharging patients
The ministry's directive to the states came after reports indicated a shortage of hospitals with ICU beds, ventilators among others. The reports also pointed out that private hospitals were overcharging patients.
Some states have already gone a step ahead and had consultations with the private sector and reaching an agreement on this.
It said PMJAY package and CGHS package rates are already available with the states and the latter rates are fixed area wise.
The ministry statement said, "States have also been asked to proactively engage with the private sector health providers and consider pooling in public and private healthcare facilities, as this will help in providing prompt, good quality and reasonable health care to COVID-19 patients."
As of now, India has about 958 hospitals dedicated to COVID-19.
According to a private lab owner, the private sector does not mind contributing its bit to treating the pandemic but the Government needs to realise that there is a fixed cost involved in testing and treating COVID-19 patients. The price bracket cannot be brought down after a certain point. The Government has to plan in a way that people who can pay should be made to pay for their treatment whereas people who cannot afford the treatment should be either given free of cost treatment or treatment at subsidized rates.