Kathmandu’s private hospitals fleece Covid-19 patients, multiplying crisis

The Ministry of Health and Population has fixed a daily charge of Rs 3,500 for the treatment of normal Covid-19 patient, Rs 7,000 for moderate, and Rs 15,000 for critical cases. Accordingly, private hospitals have also been asked to sign service contracts.

However, some big private hospitals in the valley are not ready to provide treatment at the fee fixed by the government. They have been found to charge exorbitant fees for treating Covid-19 patients. They are charging up to Rs 7,000 and Rs 26,500 per day for normal isolation beds and ventilator beds respectively.

Beyond reach

Adding the fees of medicine, nurses, and doctors, it seems that the fees of private hospitals are way beyond the reach of common people. Regarding the service contracts, some private hospitals have said that the service contract is being discussed while others have argued that no formal information has been received from the government about the contract so far.

According to Manita Pokhrel, the information officer at Mediciti Hospital in Bhaisepati, the service contract is being discussed between the hospital administration and the ministry. But as of now, the Covid-19 patients are treated at their own rate.

The daily charges of Medicity hospital for Covid-19 patients are as follows. These charges are inclusive of food but exclusive of medicine, medical services from doctors and medical persons, tests, and other services.

Bed packageBed cost (Per person, per day)
Single-bed isolationRs 12,500
Double-bed isolationRs 6,000
ICURs 20,000
VentilatorRs 25,000

‘Not practical’

Similarly, Bikas Man Singh, the general manager of Grande International Hospital, says that he only got to know about the service contract through the media. Stating that there is no formal notice from the government side, he stresses, “The rate fixed by the government is not practical, thus, cannot be implemented. The government alone has set the charges of treating the infected without even consulting private hospital operators.”

He says further consultations are needed to implement the government’s service contract. The current daily charges of the Grande International Hospital are listed below, which are exclusive of charges for food, medicines, medical services from doctors and medical persons, tests, and other services.

Bed packageBed cost (Per person, per day)
GeneralRs 7,000
SingleRs 14,000
DoubleRs 11,500
ICURs 17,500
VentilatorRs 26,500

Binod Adhikari, the information officer of the Om Hospital, also says the same thing about the service contracts. Adhikari adds, “The hospital is ready to treat the infected at the rate fixed by the government. But, at the time of the pandemic, the government should also pay attention to the tax concessions that the government can give to private hospitals.”

Bed packageBed cost (Per person, per day)
GeneralRs 2,000
Single IsolationRs 3,000
High care single isolationRs 4,000
High care single with unitRs 5,700
Special isolationRs 5,000
ICURs 9,000
VentilatorRs 14,500

HAMS Hospital in Dhumbarahi has issued a notice stating a minimum daily bed charge of Rs 7,000 to Rs 50,000 for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

There is a provision of the hospital to make the patients or relatives of patients coming to the HAMS Hospital for Covid-19 treatment sign or provide approval, saying, “Even if there is free treatment in a government hospital, I/my patient have/has agreed to be treated in this hospital as per my wish, and I will bear all the expenses incurred during the treatment.”

Bed packageBed cost (Per person, per day)
GeneralRs 7,000
Twins sharing roomRs 15,000
Three-bed and four-bedRs 11,000
Isolation private room Rs 21,000
Isolation deluxe roomRs 26,000
Isolation suite roomRs 50,000
ICURs 22,000

According to the information issued by the hospital, in addition to the above-mentioned bed charges, medicines, medical services, and other expenses will be borne by the patients themselves.

Hefty charges even at hospitals with contracts

The Ministry of Health has signed a service contract with the Kathmandu Medical College Teaching Hospital (KMC Hospital), Sinamangal on Sunday only. But the contract itself allows the hospital administration to charge a high fee for the cabin.

The fourth point of the contract states, “If any patient wishes to undergo treatment at his own expense with cabin facilities, the hospital will be allowed to charge up to an additional 50 per cent of the prescribed rate.”

“As per the contract, we have set a daily charge of Rs 20,000 for single cabin beds, Rs 10,000 for double beds, Rs 25,000 for cabin deluxe and Rs 30,000 for super deluxe, “says Dr Sunil Sharma, executive director of the hospital.

‘Actions will be taken’

Dr Jageshwar Gautam, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health and Population, says action will be taken if a private hospital is found to be charging more than the amount prescribed by the government.

He says that the private hospitals should provide services as per the service contract called by the government and the circular issued by the government.

Further, he adds that in this time of the pandemic, it is not possible to circulate notices to all the private hospitals individually.

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Lama is a senior sub-editor at Onlinekhabar.

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