Hospital hostages

Hospital hostages:

Thanks to coronavirus, one sector of the economy is making mega bucks like never before

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Hospital hostages: Thanks to coronavirus, one sector of the economy is making mega bucks like never before

Following a surgery, a 48-year-old patient was a ‘medical hostage’ for five days in a Spectra Hospital in Delhi…. The hospital refused to let him leave till the bill was paid and continued to bill him for the period of his compelled admission….this is one such news, off late – daily we get to read or hear such news !!

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When I first saw it in the morning paper, I thought it was a misprint. Rs 80,000? For a single bed? And that too not to buy the wretched thing outright and take it home with you, but just to pay for its rental for a single day? What was the darn thing made of that it cost so much by way of a kiraya (rent) ? Solid gold? Platinum?

NO…. It was just an ordinary bed in a private hospital in one of India’s metro cities. And 80,000 bucks is what it would cost you if you wanted to make use of it for 24 hours.

The coronavirus pandemic which has knocked the global economy for a double six has been a major bonanza for many of India’s private hospitals, which were charging Covid-19 patients a king’s ransom for admission, even as there were reports that they were paying their health staff niggardly wages and providing them with inadequate PPE s – Personal Protective Equipment.

It was extortion, pure and simple, holding patients hostage to extract huge sums of money from them. Since then, the authorities in several states have stepped in and capped the fee that hospitals are permitted to charge.

Even so the rates remain high, with beds costing over Rs 25,000 a day, and much more if the patient needs to be put in an ICU, or requires a ventilator.

And that’s just the cost of the basic bed. Hospitals have long mastered the art of what is called creative accountancy, and long before the coronavirus hit us were known to charge several times the MRP for medicines and other healthcare requirements.

Now, in the midst of pandemic panic, hospitals can become even more inventive in their billing.

Patient needs to have body temperature taken six times a day? Fine. That’ll be Rs 3,000 per reading. Let’s say we round it off to Rs 20,000 for convenience.

Patient requires use of bed pan? No problem. Bed pans come at a rental of Rs 2,500 per usage. That’s for Number One job. Number Two job? That’ll be Rs 5,000, thanks.

And on discharge, the patient will immediately have to be readmitted, the bottom line of the hospital bill having induced a heart attack.

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DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author’s own.

Excerpts from a Blog in the Editorial Times of India newspaper

Published by Shobha Iyer

Always be Happy; always wear a Smile, Not because Life is full of reasons to Smile, but because your Smile itself maybe a reason for many others to Smile ;The Greatest Thing In Life Is Love And The Second Is Laughter..

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