COVID-19 an infectious deadly disease which originated in China in 2019 has
claimed many lives so far and even after a year it has not stopped its pace, it
is still intensifying. It has brought distress to the entire world whether it's
related to finance, health or some other serious issue. Healthcare personnel
around the world are utilising their full potential to help the people get out
of this pandemic.
Every major workforce has been affected by the pandemic. The gravity of the
situation is intensifying. The beggars, street vendors are the worst affected.
The only reason is the 'lack of money'. They are short of money and hence could
not fulfill their necessities and in such a case, they can't think of spending a
huge amount on treatment, if required. The rise in the cost of COVID treatment
is compromising with the life of an individual. This article focuses on the cost
of COVID treatment, the black marketing, conduct of private hospitals,
comprising with the right to life and a large-scale effort put by NGOs to
provide health essentials.
Cost of covid-19 treatment
Important resources for COVID treatment are Personal Protective Equipment (PPE
kits), Ventilators, beds for the patient, COVID treatment centers, medicines,
oxygen cylinders. But most of these resources are not available at fair value.
Prices have gone through the roof. It has become difficult for a common man to
afford all these resources. Losing jobs has already created a mental trauma for
some and the high prices of these resources are taking a breath of people. These
high prices are compromising people's life. Everyone wants to get rid of this
pandemic, either because they are locked inside their homes and restricted to do
their favourite leisure or because of the reason that they can't afford the cost
of treatment of Corona, if required and failure to provide treatment may end the
life of an individual.
In the starting months of COVID, its unpredictable nature had urged India to
import PPE kits, ventilators and N-95 Masks. The cost of imported health
infrastructure was high. The average cost of imported ventilators was 15 lakh
which was later reduced to 2-10 lakh under 'Make in India
' Similarly, the
stock of PPE kits has grown from 2 lakh in the initial months of COVID to more
than 89 lakh at present. And so the average cost of PPE kits has substantially
come down from Rs.600 to about Rs.200 per kit. Besides Ventilators and PPE kits,
the rates of N-95 Masks were also lowered under 'Make in India
initiative. The average rates have dropped from about Rs.40 to Rs.12 per
Treatment in private hospitals is a big deal for a common man. Everyone wants to
avail good services. But at such a time increasing the prices is compromising
with one's right to life. Such services should be provided at a fair price.
Starting with the first step i.e., Covid test (RT-PCR), the charges were too
high from Rs 2400-4500 in the starting months which is not affordable to every
class. However, the government of various states has slashed the rate of RTPCR
test now for private labs. Rs 800 on average has been decided by all the states
for the RT-PCR test.
Costs of RT-PCR tests in several states across India :
State Submission of samples at Centres Swab Collection From Home
Maharashtra 600 800
Delhi 800 1200
UP 700 900
Gujarat 700 900
After a patient is tested positive and enters a hospital, the charges start with
the room, even though the rent depends upon the classification of the hospital,
still the cheapest room would cost around 1000-1500 a day.
The treatment for isolation beds is currently priced between ₹8,000 and ₹10,000.
For ICU units without ventilators, the charges are fixed between ₹13,000 and ₹15,000.
For ICU with ventilators, a bed costs between ₹15,000 and ₹18,000. All
charges include PPE costs. The price of oxygen concentrators ranges from Rs
40,000 to Rs 2,00,000. However, the normal oxygen cylinders are priced from Rs
8,000 to Rs 9,000. Apart from this, the cost of the medicines which vary from
person to person has also to be born by the patients besides the food expense.
And finally, the treatment of COVID patient round up to 8 lakhs -10 lakhs, a
huge amount for a common man.
Through the vaccination, India is heading towards a normal life. The cost of
vaccine brings again the question. The government has capped the price for COVID
vaccination centres so that they do not exceed the ceiling. The Covishield is
charged at ₹780, Covaxin at ₹1,410, and Sputnik V at ₹1,145 in private
These are the rates decided by the government but other than these high rates
the patients are getting overcharged due to black marketing. The flourishing
black market is fleecing helpless people. The people had to spend double or
triple the amount than the original price for getting medicines and oxygen
cylinder. The people had to drive around for a long time to get the required
medical infrastructure just because it is unavailable in the hospital due to a
surge in black marketing of medical infrastructure.
The people have to turn to black market to save the life of their family
members. The antiviral drug remdesivir which is widely used to treat patients
with severe symptoms in India is available at Rs 43000, the normal price of
which is between Rs 1000-5400 for 100 milligram vial of drug.
Not only this the fleecing continues even at the time of cremations. Rs
15000-20000 are to be paid for cremation in some places. And if the families
couldn't pay the high cremation fees, the dead bodies are dumped into the
rivers. The Municipal corporation of Gurugram has taken a step in this regard
and fixed a rate of ₹5,500 for cremating bodies.
Right to life
Nothing can be worse than compromising with life and in the current scenario, it
seems that the cost of life is less than the cost of treatment. Health is a
necessary condition while wealth is sufficient condition and the necessary
condition is the most important. Article 21 which is a Fundamental Right is
enshrined in the constitution gives the right to life. Right to life has a
Life is not confined to only mere existence but the basic elements which are
important for existence. In this pandemic, the resources of treatment of COVID
have become basic elements for individuals suffering from COVID. Working seems
impossible without good health. And at this point of time, a COVID patient has
to pay lakhs of amount for his health. A nation can't be saved by increasing the
cost of health essentials.
People are scrambling for beds, ventilators and oxygen cylinders. In this
crucial time of help the lack of proper medical facilities is amounting to
passive euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is bringing about the death of an
individual by omission of an act. And the passive euthanasia can be witnessed in
the current situation, where the shortage of medical oxygen, which is vital for
the survival of critical covid patient has taken many lives.
No person can take away the life of any individual. Creating an artificial
shortage of medical infrastructure and selling the products at exorbitant rates
is crossing all the limits of evilness. The only option that remains with the
poor is to see their loved ones die as they can't spend lakhs of rupees on the
treatment. The government of some states like Maharashtra and Haryana have asked
to charge the insured patients according to their insurance policy. However, all
the patients do not have insurance policy and uninsured patients would be
Right to life is the first fundamental right which a person enjoys by his birth.
And an aggrieved person can claim compensation for violation of his fundamental
right. Here the aggrieved person is the one who could not get timely treatment
due to whatsoever reason. An aggrieved person or his family member (as the case
may be) can approach the respective High Court under Article 226 and could claim
monetary compensation from the respective government authority for the loss of
life of a family member due to the shortage of oxygen, or due to failure of
Supreme Court has given various judgement regarding right to life wherein it
has been ensured that the patient is treated with full care. Supreme Court in
the case 'Occupational Health and Safety Association Vs. Union of India
held that the government hospital is duty-bound to provide timely medical
treatment to the patient in need of such treatment at that particular time.
Also, the Supreme Court in Pt.Permanand Katara vs Union of India
that if the government hospital does not provide timely help to the patient in
need of such treatment then it would amount to violation of right to life.
The Division Bench of the High Court of Bombay in a PIL titled 'Pratibha
Shinde vs Principal Secretary
' observed that it is the primary duty of the
government to secure the welfare of the people in a welfare state and it is an
obligation on the part of government to provide adequate medical facilities to
the people in a welfare state. The preservation of human life is of paramount
importance. The government has the duty to provide timely care to the patients
in serious conditions as medical facilities and treatment cannot circumvent at
Considering the financial pressure on people, the government of few states have
paid the bills of patients of government hospitals whom they have referred to
In India private hospitals are more in number as compared to government
hospitals. But still few people prefer government hospitals because they can't
afford to pay an exorbitant cost in private hospitals. Government hospitals are
economically feasible as compared to private hospitals. But in recent times many
have shifted to private hospitals. The only reason behind this is facilities,
the pandemic has highlighted the lacunae in government hospitals.
The limited healthcare facilities, the shortage of specialised staff. The
inadequate facilities and high cost, both of these are restricting patients from
getting a healthy life. It needs to be ensured that the cost of treatment is
kept low. However, the people of all strata cannot bear the cost of private
hospitals. Keeping in mind the cost of treatment in private hospitals, the
government capped the treatment prices to prevent patients from harassment. The
government must come up with different policies for different strata wherein the
poor must be treated free of cost. And for the middle and rich class, a
reasonable cost should be implemented on all medical infrastructure from the
covid test to the cremation.
Insurance under private hospitals
Hospitals are full of COVID patients, private hospitals which are unable to
undertake regular surgeries due to COVID patients are experiencing financial
pressure. Also, the insurance companies have declined to pay higher charges.
The private hospitals want to increase the rate of COVID test and the treatment
as they are facing financial pressure. However, they are not allowed to do so
since the government has capped the price. Some of the private hospitals, to
tackle the issue of financial crisis have asked the patients to settle the bill
in cash which means the insurance will not be accepted. Since the money through
insurance cover will be less, the cash payment would help in betterment of the
current condition of private hospitals.
The government need to look into this as people pay 18% tax on insurance
policies, the most important policy of life, the health insurance policy at this
crucial time is been rejected by private hospitals and is a very serious issue
to be considered.
NGOs working for covid-19 relief
Out of pocket cost are preventing people from seeking care and so recognizing
the need of hour a large-scale effort has been put by various NGOs for the
COVID-19 relief by making all the possible help they could offer.
- On one hand where black marketing of medical infrastructure is at peak,
the Sakina Foundation active in Telangana and different parts of India is
providing covid relief measures by accepting donations in the form of oxygen
cylinders, Remdesivir injections, covid medicines, masks, sanitizers,
gloves, PPE, grocery.
- Chikka Foundation active in Delhi and Bihar is supplying ration, masks,
soaps and providing meals to some daily wage workers and domestic help who
have been rendered jobless in the current situation.
- HelpNow an NGO active in Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore has the
largest network of private ambulance. HelpNow provides a safe, 24x7
logistics network for transporting COVID patients, Drugs, Phlebotomists and
- Pandemic which has cornered women from red-light areas and transgenders,
certain NGOs are helping them in the humanitarian crisis. Apne aap women
worldwide initiative, is providing meals, medicines, vaccinations, and safe
housing for women and children living in red-light areas. And ParivarBayArea
is supporting transgenders, who have been impacted by the second wave of
Apart from NGOs, Co-living space provider Zolostays, a startup has started an
initiative where they would be creating bio-bubble facilities for people who are
not comfortable about their safety in current environment. They are also
assisting COVID patients to match plasma donors with patients.
The outbreak of the pandemic is playing with the lives of many. In the
beginning, many might have considered that money won't be a constraint in a
fight against the pandemic. But the scene is completely different. Some of the
patients have stated that they could defeat corona but not the hospital bill.
The welfare of people lies in the hands of the legislature and the problem of
black marketing has to be tackled with heavy hands. The government must
establish an independent body which would ensure that the private labs strictly
follow the capped price set by the government. The services shall be made
available in a particular time frame.
The world is experiencing financial pressure, even though private businesses are
profit-oriented but on moral grounds, treatment should be provided at a fair
price. Laws guarantee Fundamental Rights to every citizen of the country. But in
this crucial time, right to life is compromised. Everyone is looking forward to
a time where the world would be Corona free but the hard truth is that it would
last longer than expected.
- How the Domestic Medical Equipment Industry “Adapted, Evolved and
Expanded” to meet COVID19 challenge in 2020
- RT-PCR Covid Test Cost: State-Wise Prices At Private Labs, Govt
- Private hospitals seek revision in prices of covid tests, treatment –
- Price of oxygen concentrator