NATHEALTH submits ‘COVID Package Pricing’ to government

In a joint representation to the Delhi Government, private hospitals have put forth the challenges faced by the sector and recommended ways it can serve

Preetha Reddy is the newly elected president of NATHEALTH
Preetha Reddy is the newly elected president of NATHEALTH

NATHEALTH has submitted a representation on ‘COVID Package Pricing’ to Satyendar Kumar Jain, Health Minister, Government of NCT. In this joint representation, NATHEALTH has urged the government to continue to push for a higher level of transparency by mandating hospitals to publish their treatment charges. They have also recommended the appointment of Ombudsman at zonal level to inspect the complaints of overcharging.

The representation highlights the current unprecedented challenges being faced by the private healthcare providers in COVID treatment. “Pricing is a factor of quality of infrastructure, level of services, medical protocol followed, brands of medicines used, skill and salaries of doctors and staff and more importantly the medical outcomes. In the view of COVID-19, the focus of treatment protocols has undergone a significant shift and the hospitals need to equally (if not more) ensure that health care workers (HCWs) are not infected, while treating patients and the hospitals themselves don’t become hotspots or super-spreaders,” added a statement by NATHEALTH. The new approach has thus led to an increase in the cost of care (both for COVID and non-COVID) and added to expenses.

Unlike the early days of the pandemic, hospitals are now admitting patients with significantly higher viral load, co-morbidities and complications. “Many of these high-risk patients need oxygen support and thus the impact on cost of care is expected to be higher than usual. At the same time, mild to moderate risk patients are being managed in extended COVID hospitals set up in hotels and at home,” it stated.

Based on their estimates, the incremental cost of care (beyond normal) is expected to be in the range of Rs 15,000- 17,000 per day/patient. The focus of treatment protocols in COVID times has undergone a significant shift and the hospitals need to equally (if not more) ensure that healthcare workers are not infected while treating patients and the hospitals themselves don’t become hotspots/super-spreaders.

This responsibility has thus led to increase in cost of care (both for COVID and non-COVID). As the number of COVID infections are expected to rise to 5.5 lakh in Delhi by end of the next month, there is a dire need to boost the infrastructure both in the private and public hospitals to handle the emerging crisis in the city. The private hospitals, so far, have been working shoulder to shoulder with the Government to develop protocol, improve testing, expand capacity, testing innovative solutions through clinical trials and also reducing the load on hospitals through remote monitoring & home management of mild risk cases. “The private sector hopes that a collaborative approach will be adopted at such critical juncture, where there is a dire need for all the stakeholders to work in unison to serve fellow countrymen,” it states.