After there were reports of private hospitals in Kerala charging high rates for COVID-19 care, the state government once again released an order on Monday, May 10, to cap the treatment and bed charges.
According to the order, the private hospitals that have a National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) can charge Rs 2,910 per day for the general ward, and those without NABH can charge Rs 2,645 per day. For the High Dependency Unit (HDU), hospitals can charge Rs 3,795 (non-NABH) and Rs 4,175 (NABH), per day.
For ICU beds per day, hospitals can charge Rs 7,800 (non-NABH) and Rs 8,580 (NABH). Private hospitals are allowed to charge up to Rs 13,800 (non-NABH) and Rs 15,180 (NABH) per day for ICU with ventilators.
Hospitals can also charge extra for investigative tests like CT chest /HRCT chest scans, as well as for PPE kits, and costly medications like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab. Other than these, all other services are included in the above-mentioned charges.
"Multiple rounds of discussions were held with the Private Hospital Associations by the Principal Secretary Health, State Health Agency and Director of Health Services. Based on the discussions, the rates to be charged by the private hospitals for treatment of COVID-19 were recommended," says the recent order.
The order also instructs the hospitals to be transparent in the rates and that they need to display them. "Services given to the public by each and every clinical establishment including rates for the same should be displayed in a visible and accessible place in the organisation and/or in its website," the order says.
The order further states that if any hospital is found to be charging more than the rates as indicated, they will be levied a penalty that will be ten times the additional charges by the concerned DMO(H). ‚ÄúThere shall not be exorbitant pricing of Covid related consumables like PPE, pulse Oximeter, Masks, portable oxygen cylinders and consumables, else action shall be initiated by the District Collector against the concerned, under relevant provisions of the law. No shops or hospitals shall charge more than MRP, for these items,‚ÄĚ the order adds.
Earlier, in 2020 July, the government had released an order capping the charges for COVID-19 medical care, but that has not been followed by many hospitals in the second wave of the pandemic.
On April 30, the Kerala High Court directed the state government to take measures to cut costs at private hospitals with regards to COVID-19 treatement. The state government has been asked to discuss the matter with hospital administrations and respond with its suggestions on May 4.