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Plea in Supreme Court flags defrauding of COVID-19 patients by Private Hospitals; Court issues Notice

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Making a fortune out of people’s miseries in the hour of national crises is unsavoury and unethical. Private hospitals are burning a hole in Covid-19 patient’s pockets and exploiting them by charging an enormous amount of money.

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a plea seeking direction to the government to regulate Covid-19 treatment cost at all private or corporate hospitals.

The order was passed by a Bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justice Aniruddha Bose.

A petition was filed by advocate Sachin Jain, he appeared in person and stated in his plea that private hospitals are charging up to ₹12 lakh for Covid-19 treatment.

Well, this prodigious amount of money is not affordable or economical for the people residing in India as the poverty rate is high and people are less privileged.

The petition seeks nationwide cost regulation for the treatment of Covid-19 patients at private hospitals.

The plea addressed urgent consideration of this issue as these private hospitals are exploiting patients suffering from coronavirus.

Urgent consideration is required on this issue because according to the latest updates, Covid-19 case counts in India rises to 35,365 and death toll at 1,152.

“Most of these hospitals only charge exorbitantly for the room rent and PPE kits used by hospital staff,” says the plea.

Prayers made in the plea are:

  • It has been prayed that the government, in the exercise of its powers under Sections 6 and 10 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, has in the recent past, regulated the cost of COVID-19 testing in the private health sector and made it applicable to states and union and territories. Likewise, the government can also regulate the cost of COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals, the plea contends.
  • The petitioner has also urged the Court to direct private hospitals that have been running on public land or running under the category of “charitable institutions” to treat COVID-19 patients either pro bono publico or on a non-profit basis.
  • Further, the plea prays that the government bear the cost of COVID-19 treatment for the poor or vulnerable at private hospitals and that it should identify “private hospitals engaged in black marketing of the essential health services at the hour of national calamity.”
  • “The state should combat the commercial exploitation by private hospitals and bring in necessary regulations on the tariff structure for regulating private hospitals for treatment of Covid-19 patients,” the petition prayed.
  • Jain prayed that the central government should bear the expenses incurred at private hospitals by poor and vulnerable people, who don’t have any insurance coverage plan.

Jain in his petition referred to a news report published on April 3, that stated that insurance companies revealed that private hospitals were saddling customers with inflated bills that were, in turn, passed on to the insurance firms.

A reputed insurance company confirmed that it had settled 41 insurance claims of Covid-19 amounting to ₹6.5 lakh till April 2, 2020.

Another well-reputed insurance company stated that it has been receiving claim size of ₹ 5-6 lakh for treatment of Covid-19 patients at private hospitals. It is a great concern to the insurance companies as the hospital bills are highly inflated and unreasonable.

“If such inflated bills can become a cause of concern for the insurance industry, what will be the plight of the common man, who neither has a fat wallet nor an insurance coverage plan?” the petition said.

Jain also sought a direction from the apex court to be issued to these private hospitals which are functioning on public land, to treat Covid-19 patients pro bono or on a no-profit basis.

“Medical treatment owes a constitutional duty to treat the have-nots and a person cannot be refused treatment merely on the ground that he is not in a position to afford the fee payable for such expensive treatment,” the petition added. is now on Telegram. Follow us for regular legal updates and judgements from the court. Follow us on Google News, InstagramLinkedInFacebook & Twitter. You can also subscribe for our Weekly Email Updates. You can also contribute stories like this and help us spread awareness for a better society. Submit Your Post Now.

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