“With all Covid restrictions being withdrawn, we have decided to withdraw the bar on revising bed charges. Now, if hospitals want to, they can enhance their bed charges but the hike should not be more than 10% of their existing bed rates and the revision can be done only once a year,” said WBCERC chairman justice (retd) Ashim Kumar Banerjee.
While it is a regular practice for hospitals to revise their bed and other charges every financial year, they have not done it for the past two years. A few, including Peerless and Medica Superspecialty, had revised some charges, including that of beds and some specific investigations, by around 5% since April 1.
The health panel’s decision has come as a breather for hospitals considering a rate revision. “This is a welcome move. Once we get the written order, we will decide on our next move,” said Pradip Tondon, CEO at Belle Vue Clinic. Though he appreciated the decision, AMRI Hospitals group CEO Rupka Barua said, “At AMRI Hospitals, we have not hiked bed rates and we don’t have any such plan in the near future.”
The commission has also issued three more pieces of advice for private hospitals. First, they can’t charge separately for RMOs for patients admitted to critical care beds and that the CCU/ICU/ITU bed charges should be inclusive of the RMO’s fees. “Hospitals also cannot charge separately for routine procedures, such as intubation, fixing of Ryle’s tube, catheter, cannula, central or the arterial lines for CCU patients. These should be included in bed charge,” said Banerjee. “We don’t charge for these procedures. The decision on RMO is a good move,” said Peerless Hospital CEO Sudipta Mitra. The commission pointed out that procedures, such as ventilation, tracheotomy and ECMO, were not routine and hence could be charged separately
Third, the commission said, hospitals should provide patients free drinking/filtered water. Chargeable mineral water should be supplied only when a patient wanted bottled water, the panel said. “We follow most of the advisories. But the one regarding inclusion of procedures, like central and arterial line, and any form of cannulation within the bed rate, needs to be reviewed. This, since a lot of patients, even in critical care units , don’t need these procedures. Including these in bed rate might mean they will have to pay more,” said Barua.