‘Covid ICU costs equal to 7-month pay for average Indian’ | India News

‘Covid ICU costs equal to 7-month pay for average Indian’ | India News


The cost of hospitalisation in the ICU for Covid-19 treatment in India is equivalent to seven months or more of earnings for the average salaried, self-employed or casual worker, with the burden on casual workers equivalent to a year and three months’ income, a study has concluded.
The paper on cost and affordability of Covid testing and treatment in India by the Public Health Foundation of India and the Duke Global Health Institute is in the US is in the pre-print stage.
Using government-capped prices, the study calculated that households must have spent over Rs 64,000 crore rupees on testing and hospitals from April 2020 to June 2021. It concluded that the direct medical cost of seeking treatment by households is enormous and unsustainable and that a sizeable segment would be unable to afford Covid treatment and service.
According to the study, the cost of hospitalisation in an ICU exceeds the annual income of 86% of casual workers, of over 50% of the salaried and of two-thirds of those who are self-employed. Even the cost of just isolation in a hospital exceeds the annual income of over 43% of casual workers, a quarter of the self-employed and 15% of the salaried.
Even an estimate of Rs 2,200 for an RT-PCR test in the private sector would amount to a week’s earnings for a casual worker. More than one test has to be done during the course of the illness and others in the family too have to undergo testing, which would place a huge burden on the family.
“We have calculated the cost by taking an average of the capped prices announced by the various state governments. But these capped prices have several exclusions. So, the actual cost could be much higher than the estimate,” said Sakthivel Selvaraj, the lead author of the study. Not only did most price caps have several exclusions, most were flouted and/or bypassed. “The estimates focused on direct financial costs of COVID-19 care, the larger costs to individuals and the health care system were not considered. Even other additional direct costs such as transport cost, payment made to funeral expenses, etc are unaccounted for,” stated the paper, adding that the estimates should be considered “the low-end of the full costs of COVID-19 interventions”. It also talked about the black marketing of, and rent seeking for, oxygen and various drugs, which would have hit patients hard.
The study considered an average episode of Covid as ten days if in ICU and seven days if isolating at home and calculated the earnings of the different categories of workers from the Periodic Labour Force Survey of 2017-18.





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