Stop price tagging human livesIn a morally corrupt state, the onus to remain alive is on the citizens themselves.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a windfall for private hospitals across Nepal, as they are free to demand exorbitant deposits and charge insanely high fees for the treatment of coronavirus patients. As the Post reported on Sunday, a patient's family was asked by the Biratnagar-based Nobel Medical College Teaching Hospital to deposit Rs100,000 in advance in order to get admission. Having failed to pay the deposit amount, the family took the patient home. The sufferer committed suicide that night itself. Consider the humiliation and inhumanity the patient must have faced before coming to the conclusion that life wasn't worth living anymore.
The Post report exposed a similar pattern of overcharging in two other Biratnagar-based private hospitals that have been declared Covid-19 hospitals—the Birat Medical Hospital and Neuro Hospital. However, they are not alone in fleecing coronavirus patients who have nowhere to go as government-run hospitals run out of beds and have started charging for treatment too. Examples abound of private hospitals charging anything between Rs100,000 to Rs300,000 as deposits, and between Rs5,000 and Rs25,000 for treatment per day. Patients are left with no option but to stay at home and wait for either the disease or themselves to perish.
This is what happens when the government turns rogue and shrugs off its responsibility towards the people. Private players jump in to take the place of the government, but they come with price tags. The relationship between private corporations and consumers is almost always transactional. Private hospitals are, of course, no saints. They do not bat an eye before refusing to admit patients who do not pay hefty deposit amounts, throwing under-treatment patients out for failing to continue pumping in the money, or keeping them hostage for failing to clear the dues.
What is more, insurance companies are today reported to be duping patients when they need return for their insurance investments the most. A large number of coronavirus insurance claims remain unresolved as insurance companies find one excuse or the other to reject claims. Those who have been banking on insurance companies to take care of them in case they contract the coronavirus should rethink their certainty.
Meanwhile, the government is visibly non-existent, except coming up with just another diktat and, in effect, adding one more misery to the lives of the citizens. If anyone has any doubt anymore on the intent of the government, let this be clear: The government is the biggest part of the problem as it has left the citizens to fend for themselves when they need it the most. It has not only failed to provide free healthcare to coronavirus patients; it has also failed to keep private players in check. The patients, meanwhile, continue to escape the frying pan only to fall into the fire.
The rent-seeking attitudes of both the government and private corporations have come out in the open. If the government considers it best to let the people die of coronavirus rather than keeping them alive on their tax money, private corporations are out there to make the most of the government's criminal negligence and earn as much profit as they can. At the risk of sounding pathetically repetitive and didactic, the Post would like to remind citizens that they must continue to follow Covid-19 safety protocols religiously as the onus to remain alive is on themselves because every other institution they have learnt to take for granted as dependable has washed its hands off its responsibility.
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