Private Hospitals ignore Odisha Government’s Cap on COVID Tests

A majority of the private hospitals in Odisha are blatantly ignoring the state government’s order in capping the price of various types of COVID tests. The state health department has put the maximum price on RT-PCR test in private facilities at Rs 400, while the laboratories are supposedly charging Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 for the same.

Even for the antigen tests, hospitals are charging Rs 600 to Rs 800, as opposed to the government’s cap of Rs 450, which was further reduced to Rs 100 on Monday. As per inquiries made by the media at various hospitals, tests conducted in the TrueNat method has no price cap, and hence, the hospitals are charging Rs 2,500 to Rs 2,800.

“I was asked to pay Rs 800 for a COVID test in the rapid antigen method. I told them that the government rate was Rs 450, but they refused to oblige”, said Bhagabat Prasad Mohanty, a retired government officer, aged 81, who visited a private medical college in the city. The hospitals are claiming that this extra price includes the charge for PPE kits. A spokesperson of a hospital said, “The diagnosis cost is Rs 450. However, we are charging Rs 350 extra towards PPE kits”.

Commenting on this matter, Additional Chief Secretary of Health, Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra, said hospitals overcharging patients in violation of the government order would face strict action. Patients who are charged over and above the cap set can file official complaints.

The government will be monitoring the pricing at its discretion and take action against errant hospitals under the Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Act. As per health department circulars, the cap on tests includes tax. However, laboratories can officially charge extra for the collection of samples from home.

Hospitals are mandatorily conducting COVID test before offering treatment of any kind. While the private bodies are charging for these tests, the tests are free at government facilities.

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