There have been reports of private hospitals charging a hefty amount for treating Covid patients. The rate cards some of these hospitals displayed has attracted severe criticism on social media. Did the government make an intervention in this regard? Yes, it did.
Private hospitals and healthcare infrastructures do have their cost and their part of worries in any given situation. Hence, the extreme arguments one can see on social media for the government takeover don’t offer a logical proposition.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has given directions to state and union territories on this particular issue. It has been acknowledged that there are instances of shortage of healthcare infrastructure, including hospitals with ICU beds, ventilators, oxygen supported beds etc., in the existing system. At the same time, it also has taken into consideration reports of overcharging by healthcare providers for COVID-19 treatment.
Now, the Ministry has asked States/UTs to engage with the private healthcare providers to facilitate enhanced bed availability and critical care health facilities, as well as to ensure fair and transparent charges for services provided.
Seizing the emerging scenario, @MoHFW_INDIA has directed States/UTs to engage with private healthcare providers to facilitate critical care health facilities as well as ensure fair & transparent charges for services being provided. #IndiaFightsCorona pic.twitter.com/eTOva9lFIt
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) June 15, 2020
The Ministry asked the States to have consultations with the local private healthcare providers and arrive at reasonable rates, while factoring in cost elements for personal safety equipment for healthcare providers. The costs may vary from place to place. However, once the rates are fixed, it must be widely publicized so that both the patients and service providers are fully aware and capacities are used optimally.
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.
The Ministry acknowledged that some state governments have already undertaken efforts in this regard. Under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, agreements with private hospitals and the fixed price model have already existed.
The reports in the public domain indicate that the states like Uttar Pradesh have already engaged the private players in providing treatment to Corona patients at a publicised rate.
A recent PTI report informs that “Hospitals namely Fortis, Jaypee, Kailash and Yatharth have submitted their proposals to the chief medical officer and will start functioning soon. They have been asked to self-regulate prices and publish the prices to the general public.”