Huge mark-ups, even on PPE, send private hospitals bills soaring
What inflates Covid-19 treatment bills in private hospitals is much the same as what inflated bills in pre-Covid days — huge margins on diagnostics, consumables and medicines.
With many patients being admitted for 10-15 days, the costs add up and bills of Rs 4 lakh to Rs 16 lakh have grabbed headlines.
In the case of consumables and medicines, the modus operandi is what was exposed by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) in 2018 — procuring at a fraction of the maximum retail price (MRP) but charging patients the MRP. Since the government did nothing to address the problem, it continues.
Hospitals are also charging patients Rs 2,200 or more for every personal protection equipment (PPE) kit and other protection wear such as coveralls and masks. “Good quality PPE kits could cost Rs 800-Rs 1,200 to a hospital. With rational use and if the PPE cost is spread over the many patients admitted, it would add up to about three PPE per patient, which hospitals are charging at MRP.
The Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMed) has written to the health ministry several times since 2018 seeking regulation of hospital margins on medical devices and consumables that such irrational MRPs should not be allowed.