Dharavi man with medical cover charged ₹1.44 lakh for treatment

Chock-a-block: A crowded street in Dharavi, which has reported over 1,300 cases of COVID-19 and recorded 56 deaths so far.

Chock-a-block: A crowded street in Dharavi, which has reported over 1,300 cases of COVID-19 and recorded 56 deaths so far.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Bate

At a time when the least amount of hospital exposure is recommended to avoid contracting COVID-19, a 41-year-old electrician from Dharavi with a lung infection, has spent three extra days at Mira Road’s Bhaktivedanta Hospital after he failed to clear the bill of ₹1.44 lakh.

Ansar Ahmed Khan’s case also trashes the State government’s claims of free treatment for all. Mr. Khan, who is covered under the State’s medical insurance scheme, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY), was denied free treatment under it.

In and out of hospital

Early this month, Mr. Khan complained of discomfort while breathing. The civic-run Sion hospital, which was closest to him, did not have beds, so his brother got him admitted to Temba Hospital in Mira Road, which is run by the local municipal corporation. “He was tested for COVID-19 and his reports returned negative. After that, the hospital asked us to shift him out as they were treating only COVID-19 patients,” said Mr. Khan’s brother Ashfaque, who then shifted him to a private hospital.

However, Mr. Khan was abruptly discharged as his condition deteriorated and he went into an acute respiratory distress syndrome. On May 7, he was admitted to Bhaktivedanta Hospital, where he was immediately admitted to the intensive care unit and put on non-invasive ventilator support.

“Since we had an MJPJAY card, we showed all the documents at the time of admission. But the hospital desk told us that MJPJAY was shut due to COVID-19,” said Mr. Ashfaque. Over the next few days, he borrowed ₹80,000 from friends and relatives to pay the hospital. “The total bill had touched ₹1.44 lakh. On May 16, we were asked to clear the remaining ₹64,000 as my brother was fit for discharge,” said Mr. Ashfaque, who failed to arrange the money. His brother remains in hospital.

Mira Road-based activist Sadique Basha, who is helping the family raise money, said it is sad that the patient has not been treated under MJPJAY. “What is the point of such a scheme when patients don’t get the benefit even in an empanelled hospital?” he said.

MJPJAY offers a cover of ₹1.5 lakh per family per year for people in low-income groups. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, State Health Minister Rajesh Tope recently lifted the income barrier and announced that the scheme will cover everyone being treated in the 1,000 empanelled hospitals.

Dr. Ila Ghosh, manager of medical administration at Bhaktivedanta Hospital, said Mr. Khan’s treatment consisted of non-invasive ventilation through the bilevel positive airway pressure machine and oxygen support, which was not covered under MJPJAY packages. “MJPJAY covers only invasive ventilators,” she said.

‘Covered in scheme’

MJPJAY’s chief executive officer Dr. Sudhakar Shinde rubbished this claim. Dr. Shinde said, “The patient should have been covered as all such treatment packages are in the scheme.” He said the patient should have been covered under the package for “acute respiratory failure without ventilator with 10 days stay”.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 12:10:29 PM |

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