SC: Why no free Covid care at private hospitals? | India News

NEW DELHI: Amid reports of spiralling cost of Covid-19 patients’ treatment in private hospitals, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre why such hospitals, most of which were given land free of cost or at nominal rates, not be asked to treat coronavirus patients without charge or at reduced cost.
Acting on an application filed by advocate Sachin Jain alleging commercial exploitation of Covid-19 patients, a bench of CJI SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta why private hospitals be not made to comply with an executive order to treat Covid-19 patients free.
Mehta told the bench that it was a policy issue and needed to be considered by the government for an appropriate decision.
The bench asked the solicitor general to respond within a week to the court’s suggestion about free treatment by private and charitable hospitals, which got land free of cost or at nominal prices.
The government had earlier capped the cost of testing patients for coronavirus after it was pointed out that some private hospitals were overcharging for the tests.
Jain’s application said, “With no treatment cost regulation in place, various private hospitals/doctors are commercially exploiting the plight of patients suffering from Covid-19 and making a fortune out of the health crisis staring at the nation and its population.”
The bench said those healthcare institutions which enjoyed free land or subsidies from the government could be directed to provide cost effective treatment to Covid-19 patients during the health crisis.
Quoting a TOI article, Jain referred to a surgeon’s statement that a Covid-19 patient was billed Rs 12 lakh by a private hospital, leading a reputed insurance company to question the high cost. Jain referred to the news item which quoted the insurance company confirming that during March-April, it settled 41 claims of Covid-19 patients who sought reimbursement of an average Rs 5-6 lakh they had paid to private hospitals.


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