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Don't overcharge patients, state government warns private hospitals

Dont overcharge patients, state   government warns private hospitals
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Kolkata: Bengal government has issued a strong warning to the COVID designated private hospitals across the state and also to those treating Corona patients asking them not to overcharge the family members of the patients especially at a time when pressure is mounted on government-owned health institutions.

The West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission (WBCERC) has asked the private hospitals in the state to charge the patients reasonably. It has been keeping a close watch on every minute development that has been taking place in the private health care system. Complaints of overcharging concerning both COVID and non-COVID cases have surfaced from certain quarters against some private hospitals.

What is more appalling is that some private hospitals have shifted COVID-19 patients, essentially those belonging to the financially weaker section, to the government establishments as in many cases they have failed to realize the due amount as the family members refused to pay the money after the death of patients.

"The private hospitals often try to exorbitantly charge others to compensate for the loss they incur due to various issues. Some patients register complaints while others do not. There is a vicious circle but we have to ensure better treatment for patients keeping within the purview of law," a senior official of the WBCERC said.

After the Coronavirus appeared, the state government told the private hospitals that they would pay the treatment costs of COVID patients whom they recommend but those who get admitted to private hospitals on their own and eventually test positive for COVID will have to pay the charges to the hospitals.

"High graded private hospitals charge the patients the corporate rate. Various aspects are involved here. The tariffs that hospitals charge are basically insurance based rates. More than 80 per cent of the patients coming to the hospitals have insurance and the hospitals tend to charge exorbitantly. Those who have no insurance coverage are in real trouble. We have to sit together with the insurance companies to discuss the issue so that the hospitals do not overcharge. There must be a holistic approach," added the official.

The state government has already been providing free-of-cost treatment to COVID-19 patients in government hospitals that have been designated for corona treatment. There are currently 69 dedicated COVID hospitals in the state out of which 53 private hospitals have been requisitioned by the government while the remaining 16 are state-owned.

Justice Ashim Kumar Banerjee, Chairperson of WBCERC said: "After COVID-19 broke out, we have formed a WhatsApp group with representatives from the Health Department, police and also private hospitals. We discuss patients' oriented issues in that platform and take them up with private hospitals. We have already issued certain directives to the private hospitals. We will look into the issues after we receive specific complaints."

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