O2 bills will prove costly to hospitals

Officials ask hospitals choking patients with inflated bills for oxygen to initiate refunds

Nodal officers have started to crack down on hospitals that are inflating bills and charging patients extra for oxygen supplied by the hour. The cost of supplying oxygen per hour is included in the bed charges and should not be charged separately, according to Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST), a scheme that entitles the underprivileged and covid patients admitted through the BBMP helpline, to free treatment. SAST pays the hospitals for all the charges incurred by patients admitted under this scheme.

But some hospitals have been charging between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 per hour of oxygen supplied, saying these are charges fixed by the Karnataka government. SAST has also prescribed a cap on charges for patients admitted to private hospitals. (see box) Some hospitals are flouting this too.

Recently, Sathya (named changed), was admitted to a hospital in Dasarahalli, with covid, for 15 days. Says Sathya, “After testing positive for covid, I was admitted to the hospital under the private quota. The hospital informed us that the oxygen charges would be according to the mandates of the Karnataka government, which they said was Rs. 1,500 per hour. At the time of discharge, they gave me a bill of Rs. 8,13,400, of which Rs. 5.4 lakh was for oxygen alone, which they had calculated for 360 hours,” he said.

A senior official from Dasarahalli zone said that they would verify the bills and check with the hospitals that have overcharged patients. “The bed charges include oxygen charges and the hospitals are not supposed to charge extra. We will check all the bills from the hospitals and send them a notice to initiate a refund,” said the officer.



Alok Kumar, ADGP KSRP and nodal officer for East zone, said that it has come to his notice that hospitals were charging exorbitant amounts under the pretext of oxygen charges. “We have identified such hospitals against whom we received complaints and have formed teams to look into the inflated bills, from April. The team will verify the number of patients who were overcharged by the hospitals not only for oxygen but also for beds and other additional charges and will ask them to initiate a refund,” he said.

He said that the special team looking into the alleged complaints raised against Comfort Hospital, submitted a report and on Saturday, informed the hospital that they had to initiate a refund for charging Rs 1,000 per hour of oxygen supplied. “We have started to crack down on other hospitals in the East zone for overcharging patients and if the hospital does not cooperate with us, we will initiate legal action against them,” he said.

Recently, Bangalore Mirror had reported that some private hospitals in the East Zone were charging Rs. 1,000 per hour of oxygen supplied. Following this, the officials had started investigations into complaints of hospitals giving inflated bills.

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Sagar Biswas

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