BENGALURU: Despite the government capping the rates of RT-PCR tests in private labs to Rs 800, a resident of the Kaggadasapura area of Bengaluru was forced to shell out extra money for his father. Jayesh Veeraraghavan ended up paying Rs 2500 for his father’s COVID-19 test in addition to Rs 1754 for the gown, gloves, and a face shield at Sri Lakshmi Super Specialty Hospital.
“My father took the first dose of Covishield vaccine on March 8. On March 23, however, he developed cough, fever, and body pain. We were not sure if this was a side effect of the vaccine or symptoms of COVID-19 so we took him to the hospital,” said Jayesh.
At first, the hospital sent the patient home after giving him an injection and medicines and told them to return if the temperature increases. When they returned the next day, tests were done and inflammation was found in his lungs.
“They asked me to do an RT-PCR test as well but charged me Rs 2500 for it. I told them the government has capped the rates to Rs 500 in government set-ups and Rs 800 for private centres. But they insisted that these were their charges. They also asked me to pay up Rs 1754 extra for a gown, gloves, face shield, and an N95 mask. I did not have an option then so I paid the amount,” Veeraraghavan said, further adding that the hospital staff did not even use any of the gloves or the gown.
Jayesh further said that owing to the pandemic, he had lost his job in December because of which he could not avail the health insurance that was offered by his company. He worked in HR operations management and recruitment at a private company.
While the RT-PCR report came negative, the HRCT (High-resolution computed tomography) showed moderate levels of COVID-19, with 25 percent to 30 percent lung involvement. “While the normal charges for a private room are Rs 6400 per day, they charged him Rs 11650 since he was a COVID suspect. They charged us a whopping Rs 41706 for medicines, HRCT scan, blood test, RT PCR and other paraphernalia for 24 hours. I discharged my father after this and took him to Sir CV Raman General Hospital,” he added.
Clarifying on the issue, Dr. A C Sambashiva, medical superintendent and owner of the hospital said that as there is no lab at their hospital. A private lab is arranged to visit their premises to collect the sample, for which the charges are Rs 2500, including the use of a PPE kit. “Why should the government interfere in the rates offered by private hospitals? Small hospitals are suffering due to the pandemic and we need to pay salaries. We have the right to claim our rates for professional charges, CT scans, blood tests, and others. Corporate hospitals charge Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh per day but no one questions them. We are doing this for our survival,” said Dr. Sambashiva in his defense.
He questioned that since the government has not given any support to hospitals due to pandemic-induced financial distress, many are forced to shut down. He added that suspected COVID patients require a separate room for isolation, and they are at high risk due to which staff needs to wear PPE kits around them.
While the government has fixed the rates for RT-PCR tests and the rates for COVID-positive patients in general beds, ward with oxygen beds, and ICU beds with ventilators, they have not capped the rates for suspected COVID-19 patients.
News source : TNIE