Bengaluru, June 23, 2020: Karnataka government on Tuesday capped coronavirus treatment package rates for private hospitals. There are now two sets of rates for patients: those who are referred by public health facilities and those who approach private hospitals directly.
According to the notification issued by Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar on Tuesday, 50% of the beds in private hospitals having facilities to treat Covid-19 patients shall be reserved for the treatment of patients referred by public health authorities. This will include the high-dependency unit and ICU (intensive care unit) beds both with and without ventilators. The hospitals may utilise the remaining 50% of Covid beds for admitting Covid-19 patients privately.
The package rates are inclusive of PPEs and other consumables but do not include high-end drugs and treatments like plasma therapy. Package rates for Covid-19 patients referred by public health authorities are Rs. 5,200 for general ward, Rs. 7,000 for high dependency unit (ward with oxygen), Rs. 8,500 for isolation ICU without ventilator, and Rs. 10,000 for isolation ICU with ventilator.
The ceiling price for Covid-19 treatment for patients directly admitted by private health providers making cash payment (non-insurance) is Rs. 10,000 for general ward, Rs. 12,000 for high-dependency unit, Rs. 15,000 for isolation ICU without ventilator, and Rs. 25,000 for isolation ICU with ventilator.
The state’s average time for recoveries is 17 days. That means patients paying by will be shelling out a minimum of Rs. 1.7 lakh for a 17-day stay in the general ward. Many patients have taken as many as 22 days. This will cost patients making cash payments 2.2 lakh. There are very few who have recovered in ten days or less so far.
These rates will not be applicable for patients subscribing to insurance packages as well as for agreements/Memorandum of Understanding entered into between hospitals and corporate entities. While calculating 50% of the beds to be utilised by the government patients, the number will be counted irrespective of the fact that the beds are located in general wards wards, sharing wards or in private wards.
The ceiling rate for private hospitals’ patients are for general wards and multi-sharing wards. An additional 10% may be charged for twin sharing wards and 25% more for single rooms. There will be no ceiling price for suites. The requisitioning of hospitals for sending government patients will be done by the BBMP Commissioner, Deputy Commissioners of Bangalore Urban and Rural districts, and Deputy Commissioners in respect of other districts.
With respect to unforeseen complications, surgeries, other co-morbid conditions, and pregnancy of Covid-19 patients, additional packages under Ayushman Bharat-Arogya Karnataka will apply. All Covid-19 patients including those belonging to BPL (below poverty line) and APL (above poverty line) categories, migrant labourers, and interstate returnees, not possessing public distribution system (PDS) card shall be considered as eligible in view of the unprecedented pandemic situation.
Malini Aisola, co-convener, All India Drug Action Network, who has been closely following the treatment package rates in various states including prices fixed in Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal told DH, "Karnataka excludes insurance patients from the ceiling and that is a big chunk. Maharashtra made exclusive provisions for insurance patients who ran out of package coverage. Also, other states have uniform package rates for whether it is single rooms, twin sharing or group wards. Also, this clear distinction between patients who are referred by public authorities and those who are not could get very messy. How will they enforce this? Who are the patients referred by the government?"
Some private hospital managements felt the ceiling fixed by the state government is very low and will this result in endangering doctor and patient safety. "These package rates are ridiculously lower - anywhere from one fourth to one-fifth of the packages submitted by the hospital associations. Those prices won’t even cover the consumable cost and will seriously jeopardise patient and doctor safety," said Viren Shetty, Executive Director and Group COO, Narayana Health.