Andhra Pradesh

High costs force people to prefer State-run facilities

COVID-19 care under private sector can’t be practical now, feel doctors

Treatment of COVID-19 patients under the private sector is a far-fetched concept to many of the professionals from a cross section of the people. As the Andhra Pradesh government is yet to fix the tariff for COVID-19 care in private hospitals, the present scene of action is limited to the government COVID hospitals.

Chittoor district with close to 1,200 COVID-19 positive cases, including seven casualties, has COVID hospitals administered by the Medical and Health wings at Tirupati and Chittoor.

Though people of the district generally depend on premier private hospitals in Chennai and Bengaluru for various ailments — from life-threatening diseases to viral fevers — so far not a single case of COVID-19 has reached out to the neighbouring States, irrespective of the economic strata of patients.

The public mood is crystal clear that COVID-19 cases, if touched by the private sector would only lead to devastation of the finances of the poor and downtrodden patients.

Treatment cost

Indian Medical Association (Tirupati Chapter) president P. Ravi Raju, who is also secretary of the AP Government Doctors’ Association (APGDA), maintained that going by the Indian government’s guidelines, the expenditure involved in the treatment of a COVID-19 patient in a private hospital would range between ₹5,000 and ₹15,000 a day at different categories such as isolation, isolation in the ICU, with or without ventilator facility.

"The cost is limited to just to the symptomatic treatment for the virus. The expenditure will escalate further and separate billing would ensue for COVID patients with multiple health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and heart and kidney problems. Diet is another factor. This is unimaginable for the patients from the poor and even middle class families," Dr. Raju said.

The IMA functionary said that coming to the COVID-19 treatment in government hospitals, it would be absolutely free and "nothing much would cost for the government." He observed that COVID-19 could be easily tackled even with isolation facilities at one’s home itself, but it purely depended on the cooperation of the patient and family members and the awareness about the guidelines on their part.

"Going by India’s health sector modules and economy of the poor and middle class families, the COVID-19 care by private hospitals will not work out practically," he said. ‘Strengthen government hospitals’

Former Union Minister Chinta Mohan, a doctor himself, observed that instead of allowing the private hospitals to thrive on government health schemes, the government hospitals should be strengthened further.

"COVID-19 pandemic is an eye-opener to all of us that health is supreme in one’s life. We have reports that the average expenditure on a COVID-19 patient at the time of discharge in America would be somewhere at ₹7 crore. In developed countries, it would work with strong health insurance policies. In a country like India, any move to entrust the job of caring COVID-19 patients to private hospitals would spell doom for the poor and downtrodden. The prevailing health schemes for them would not be sufficient to treat such cases. It would only lead to high corruption in the health sector," Dr. Mohan maintained.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 11:47:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/high-costs-force-people-to-prefer-state-run-facilities/article31935412.ece

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