Taking cognisance of a recent post on social media on how a private hospital is overcharging patients for COVID testing, the Karnataka government has slapped a show cause notice on Apollo hospital, Seshadripuram. The notice from the National Health Mission has asked Apollo to explanation within two days on why a patient was charged Rs 6,000 for a COVID-19 test, when the government has capped the price at Rs 4,500,
Malini Aisola, who works with the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) had tweeted a bill and criticised the hospital.
AIDAN is a watchdog in the medical fraternity, who previously criticised private bodies for presenting their own COVID testing kits with no regulatory mechanism.
In a tweet, Malini Aisola from AIDAN said, “Karnataka govt on April 17 capped COVID test charges for govt samples at ₹2250. But it has failed miserably to reign in pvt labs. @HospitalsApollo Bengaluru is charging ₹6000: ₹4500 for test + ₹1500 as "sample handling charges"
Karnataka govt on April 17 capped COVID test charges for govt samples at ₹2250. But it has failed miserably to reign in pvt labs. @HospitalsApollo Bengaluru is charging ₹6000: ₹4500 for test + ₹1500 as "sample handling charges" @BSYBJP @sriramulubjp @ICMRDELHI @ProfBhargava pic.twitter.com/DQ5iG8XAO4— Malini Aisola (@malini_aisola) July 5, 2020
Apollo is however not the only hospital that has been accused of overcharging patients for the COVID-19 test, though. On July 1, a 29-year-old man was charged Rs 6,083 for a coronavirus test at Manipal hospital, Old Airport road branch, in Bengaluru. The receipt shows that the hospital took the money as ''advance receipt', but when he asked, hospital authorities told him that if he tested positive, this would go towards a doctor consultation. A spokesperson for the hospital however refuted the allegation and said that the bill was inclusive of registration, consultation fee and PPE kit required for a swab test. The patient’s report has since tested positive for coronavirus, and he is admitted in a government facility.
The patient works with a private company, and gave a voluntary test for coronavirus after one of his colleagues tested positive for the virus. In April, the Karnataka government fixed the price of conducting tests at private laboratories for COVID-19 at Rs 2,250, if the person was referred by a government hospital.
For patients prescribed by private practitioners, private labs were allowed charge a maximum of Rs 4,500 as set by the Indian Council for Medical Research. The ICMR had proposed an upper limit of Rs 1500 for screening and Rs 3000 for confirmatory.