57% worried of high-priced COVID-19 treatment: Study

57% worried of high-priced COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals: Survey

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Around 57 per cent of respondents expressed concern about exorbitant charges for COVID-19 treatment at private hospitals, while 46 per cent fear of contracting a secondary infection in a government facility, a survey said.

The survey conducted by LocalCircles, a community social media platform, received around 40,000 responses on five questions related to public perception of government and private hospitals for COVID-19 treatment.

It also said that 61 per cent of respondents want the government to fix a price cap or standardise coronavirus treatment related room charges in private hospitals.

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According to the survey, 46 per cent of people expressed concern over catching secondary infection due to crowd and poor adherence to infection prevention control standards in hospitals, while 32 per cent highlighted the lack of adequate medical infrastructure, as their topmost concern regarding COVID-19 treatment available in the country.

It said 16 per cent of people pointed at long waiting time and inefficiencies as major issues.

On being asked where would they prefer to go for treatment if they contracted the disease, 32 per cent of respondents said they would prefer a private hospital.

While, 22 per cent said they would want to go to a government hospital, 32 per cent of respondents did not want to go to a hospital, the survey said, adding 14 per cent were unsure about it.

When the country started reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases, government hospitals were initially designated to treat such cases. The treatment for the same was made available in private hospitals later.

According to the survey, in Red Zones, especially the high virus load districts, many people expressed concern over limited capacity in private hospitals and long waiting time for admission in government facilities for COVID-19 treatment.

"That explains why 32 per cent citizens say they would rather stay home and take treatment at home and not go to the hospitals unless it is an emergency situation," Akshay Gupta, General Manager, LocalCircles said.

On the COVID-19 treatment available in private hospitals, 57 per cent of the respondents said exorbitant charges in such facilities was their topmost concern.

Additionally, unnecessary tests, lack of knowledge of COVID-19 treatment protocols and difficulty in getting admission were other major concerns expressed by 26 per cent of respondents.

“Even today, many private hospitals, especially in smaller towns, do not break up the charges of rooms, consumables and services, and it is offered as a single package.

"According to the respondents (of the survey), given that COVID-19 is already having a major economic impact on people's lives, most cannot sustain the high cost of treatment. Therefore, need of the hour is for the central and state governments to cap the treatment charges or at least standardise them based on hospital categories or ratings," Gupta said.

He added that the findings of the survey would be submitted to the Union health ministry so that action can be taken against the concerns raised by people.

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