The Financial Challenges Of Uninsured Covid Patients

The lower and middle classes are facing a serious financial crisis with admission fees and treatment costs skyrocketing during the second wave of the pandemic. An uninsured person has to go for long-term debt with nearly no other option left. Not so long ago, a 54-year-old Covid-19 patient in Begumpet has been denied admission to a popular hospital for not paying a bill of Rs 4.20 lakh.

Last month, Jyothi, a 35-year-old homemaker from Old Alwal couldn’t pull herself together when a private hospital asked for ₹1.2 lakh to treat her COVID positive husband. Families are being crippled financially in their struggle to get treatment for loved ones suffering from COVID-19.

In a new case, a 49-year-old Mukund Murli got away with a Rs 20,000 hospital bill due to a health cover purchased by his employer. But his colleague Hari Charan had to take a personal loan, which requires him to pay an EMI of Rs 6,500 for four years to clear his hospital bill.

One more patient had to pay Rs 5 lakhs after his two children and uninsured parents contracted the virus and required hospitalization. To much worse, the non-availabity of cashless treatments make patients borrow money from others in spite of having insurance.

In Secunderabad, a patient revealed that the hospital administration first demanded an upfront deposit of ₹ 1,00,000. Later, they denied admission under CGHS rates. The total bill for 3 days was around 1 lakh (per day charge of Rs 33,000+). Earlier, Telangana reported cases where renowned hospitals found guilty of overcharging covid patients. One of the hospitals charged Rs 96K for PPEs. In fact, hundreds of Covid-19 patients are being “exploited” in the name of covid.

According to the financial planners, the need for health insurance has dramatically increased and is more than ever in the past. Last year, the insurance regulator asked companies to offer a low-cost cover for Covid treatment — Corona Kavach. This cover was to expire in March this year but now stated that they can renew until September. Corona Kavach Policy is designed to cover COVID-19 related hospitalization medical expenses as per the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India recommendation.

The MD of Star Health, S Prakash, said insurers settle 90% of required medical treatment costs and at least 50% of protective equipment. “For the premium one pays, he gets tax breaks, and a continuing policy will give the policyholder accruing benefits. We are seeing more people signing up for policies now”.

Insurance aggregator InsuranceDekho’s co-founder & CEO Ankit Agarwal said, “With the ongoing condition, awareness in customers on the need for protection has increased. The pandemic is changing the dynamics of the general insurance industry. Health insurance having overtaken the motor insurance business for the first time ever to emerge as the largest portfolio in the general insurance industry.”