Moneycontrol PRO
Open App
you are here: HomeNewsIndia

Why can't private hospitals treat COVID-19 patients for free? Supreme Court asks

The Supreme Court observed that many private hospitals had been given land for free or at a nominal rate andm hence, “these charitable hospitals should treat them (patients) for free”.

May 28, 2020 / 09:49 AM IST
Representative image

Representative image

The Supreme Court of India (SC), on May 27, sought to know why private hospitals - which had been given land free of cost or at a concessional rate - could not treat COVID-19 patients for free.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy asked the government to identify hospitals which could treat patients free or at a nominal cost. The bench sought the Centre’s reply for the same.

This came while the top court was hearing a public interest litigation by lawyer Sachin Jain which sought “cost-related regulations” for treatment of COVID-19 patients at private or corporate hospitals.

The petitioner referred to news reports which said that some private hospitals had issued “inflated” bills for treatment of COVID-19 patients. The petitioner added that this resulted in even insurance companies starting to reject claims by up to 50 percent.

According to a report in The Indian Express, the bench observed that many private hospitals had been given land for free of cost or at a nominal rate and, hence, “these charitable hospitals should treat them for free”.


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

View more
How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

View more

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General of India (SG) Tushar Mehta said that the government would have to take a call on the matter as it involved a policy issue and that he would take instructions.

The matter has been adjourned for a week. The court earlier sought the Centre’s view on a PIL that demanded a cap on what private hospitals could charge patients during the ongoing crisis.

However, issuing notices to the Union Health Ministry, the court said that it would not take up the issue without hearing private entities.

Follow our LIVE blog for the latest updates of the novel coronavirus pandemic

The Gujarat High Court earlier asked the Gujarat government to take necessary steps to regulate the "exorbitant" fees charged by private hospitals authorised to treat COVID-19 patients.

The High Court took suo motu cognisance of news reports about various issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, including high cost of treatment in private hospitals.

In April, the top court ordered that testing for COVID-19 should be done free of cost in private laboratories.

However, following pleas by private laboratories, the court modified its order. It clarified that the benefit will be available only to those covered under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) and to any other economically weaker sections.

Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic
Moneycontrol News
first published: May 28, 2020 09:04 am
ISO 27001 - BSI Assurance Mark