Karnataka’s health scheme doesn’t cover mucormycosis costs | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: While the number of people suffering mucormycosis in Karnataka continues to rise, the disease is not covered by the Ayushman Bharat-Arogya Karnataka (AB-ArK) insurance scheme, although treatment for the fungal infection is an expensive affair.
Some patients who recover from Covid suffer the fungal infection, which is debilitating and even deadly. It is treated with the anti-fungal drug Liposomal Amphotericin B, a dose of which costs between Rs 5,000-Rs 6000. Most patients require 5-8 doses per day for at least 10-14 days.
While the government supplies the drug free to patients in state-run hospitals, those in private hospitals have to pay several lakhs of rupees for treatment, which could include surgical debridement to remove fungal debris from affected parts. In many cases, the cost of Covid-19 treatment itself has left families penniless and most cannot afford the cost of mucormycosis treatment.
State government data shows as of June 5, there were 1,784 mucormycosis patients in the state. Of these, 62 recovered and 111 have died. The youngest patient is a 11-year-old boy from Chitradurga who is currently being treated in paediatric ICU of Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College hospital. Bowring, the nodal centre for mucormycosis treatment in Bengaluru, has so far treated 148 patients, including 80 who have undergone surgeries.
AB-ArK, the co-branded health scheme, assures free healthcare services up to Rs 1.5 lakh to patients from BPL families not covered by any other health insurance. Compensation can go up to Rs 2 lakh, based on scrutiny and appeal. APL patients, who don’t have any other insurance cover, are reimbursed 30% of the treatment cost.
Since the fungal infection is not covered under the health scheme, hospitals plan to include the debridement procedure as eye or brain surgeries where applicable.
“We had no cases of mucormycosis earlier and so it was not included in policy,” said health department officials, who have had meetings recently with Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST) on the matter. SAST, a wing of the health department, is the implementing agency of ABArK in the state.
However, Dr PG Girish, director of medical education, said: “Mucormycosis should be treated as a Covid complication and government hospitals can claim reimbursement under AB-ArK.”

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Sagar Biswas

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