In June 2020, the department had fixed treatment charges at private hospitals. Under this, maximum charge that A1 and A2 hospitals could levy was Rs 7,500, while it was Rs 5,000 at A3 and A4 category hospitals. The intensive care unit charge was fixed at Rs 15,000. However, violation of this price cap seems to be becoming common.
“After my 90-year-old father tested positive for COVID, we chose to admit him in a private hospital in Saligramam because we were worried about overcrowding at government hospitals. However, as the daily charge for an oxygen bed was about Rs 50,000, we later shifted him to a government hospital,” said K Dhana of Alwarpet.
Many hospitals list COVID treatment packages but add extra charges. According to many patients, the hospitals seldom give detailed summary of the bills.
“My 54-year-old aunt tested positive for COVID-19. As she had hypertension, we wanted to ensure that she is taken care of. So we admitted her to a private hospital in Koyambedu, and received a bill of about Rs 6 lakh for 10-day treatment. They did not give us a detailed bill even after requesting,” said K Vinod of Kolathur.
Responding to the complaints, Health Department officials said the Directorate of Medical Services (DMS) continued to monitor violations and action would be taken against private hospitals if there are complaints.
Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said the price cap on COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals as decided last year was still in place, and added that complaints can be raised to the DMS.