Private hospitals charging exorbitant amounts to Covid-19 patients in BiratnagarPrivate hospitals in Biratnagar are demanding a deposit of Rs 100,000 to Rs 300,000 from each Covid-19 patient before starting their treatment, locals say.
Forty-five-year-old Naramaya Magar of Katnuwa in Ratuwamai Muncipality Ward No. 10 committed suicide on Monday night. She had tested positive for Covid-19 the same day.
According to Magar’s family, she was taken to Biratnagar-based Nobel Medical College for treatment after her PCR report came positive. However, the hospital demanded a deposit of Rs 100,000 for her to get admitted at the hospital.
“We could not deposit the amount so we took her back home. She committed suicide the same night,” said Sujan Magar, the deceased’s relative.
This is just a case that shows how difficult—and expensive—it is for Covid-19 patients to receive treatment in Biratnagar.
A week ago, the federal government had announced to discontinue free test and treatment of Covid-19 patients, except for certain groups including the helpless, impoverished and disabled. Since then, private hospitals in Biratnagar have been charging exorbitant amounts to Covid-19 patients.
According to locals, private hospitals are demanding a deposit of Rs 100,000 to Rs 300,000 from each Covid-19 patient before starting their treatment. The hospitals charge Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 per Covid-19 patient a day, they say.
In Biratnagar, three private hospitals—Nobel Medical College, Birat Medical College and Neuro Hospital—are providing treatment to Covid-19 patients. The Biratnagar Metropolitan City committee of Nepali Congress has also spoken out against the private hospitals fleecing Covid-19 patients. The committee recently organised a press meet and requested hospital operators not to charge exorbitant amounts to Covid-19 patients.
As per the ceiling fixed by the government, private hospitals cannot charge more than Rs 3,500 to normal patients, Rs 7,000 to patients with moderate ailments and Rs 15,000 for critical care services a day.
Nobel Medical College charges Rs 5,000 per day for patients in general ward, Rs 15,000 per day for patients in ICU facility without ventilator facilities and Rs 18,000 to patients in ICU with ventilator facility. The hospital also demands Rs 100,000 deposit from each Covid-19 patient before taking admission.
However, Narayan Dahal, manager at the hospital, said, “We are only taking deposits that equals the charge of a day. We are not taking Rs 100,000 from a Covid-19 patient.”
Currently, there are 85 Covid-19 patients in the hospital. According to Dahal, 37 patients are in the general ward, nine are in the ICU with a ventilator facility and the remaining others are in the ICU facility.
Likewise, Birat Medical College has been demanding a deposit of Rs 300,000 from each Covid-19 patient in the ICU with charges ranging from Rs 25,000 per day for ventilator service and Rs 15,000 without it. According to the hospital sources, the health facility takes Rs 100,000 deposit and Rs 8,000 per day from those staying in the general bed. Currently, there are 65 Covid-19 patients in the hospital. Among them, 18 are in the ICU facility.
Neuro Hospital in Biratnagar also takes Rs 100,000 deposit and a daily charge of Rs 15,000 if a Covid-19 patient has to be admitted to the ICU facility. For those in the general ward, the deposit cost is Rs 50,000. Currently, there are 24 Covid-19 patients in the hospital.
Meanwhile, Chief District Officer in Morang Kosh Hari Niraula said, “We have formed an inspection committee led by the commerce office and started inspecting the hospitals from Friday after receiving complaints from all quarters. The inspection committee will submit a report to the local administration soon. We will take action as per the evaluation made by the committee’s report.”