Several private hospitals in Kolkata have raised their OPD charges and other rates and many have written to insurance companies to revise their rates because of rising costs.
The hospitals said they had not revised their rates since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, though operational costs have gone up many times over the past two years.
Before the pandemic, private hospitals would usually increase their rates by around 3 per cent every year for patients not covered by medical insurance or any government scheme.
Officials of various private hospitals said between 20 and 25 per cent of their patients were covered by medical insurance.
From doctors’ consultation fees to investigation charges, some hospitals have already increased the rates while others are planning to do so.
Some insurance companies said they were not yet ready to revise rates for patients covered by cashless policies, as demanded by hospitals.
Belle Vue Clinic has increased the OPD consultation fee of some of the doctors by Rs 500.
“The visiting consultants were demanding an increase in fee because the pre-pandemic rates were continuing. So we increased the fee from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500,” said Pradip Tondon, CEO of Belle Vue.
The operational costs of the hospital, he said, have gone up by 12 to 15 per cent compared with 2019.
“We have also written to the insurance companies, asking them to revise the rates of various packages. They are yet to get back to us,” said Tondon.
Peerless Hospital has increased the rates of various diagnostic procedures by up to 5 per cent, said an official.
“We have also increased doctors’ consultation fees at the OPD by Rs 100. The operational costs have increased because of the rising prices of fuel, gas and electricity. We also had to make salary revisions because there was no hike for employees for two years,” said Sudipta Mitra, chief executive of Peerless Hospital. The hospital has raised bed charges by 2 per cent for uninsured patients.
“We have suffered heavy losses during Covid. After that the prices of vegetables, oils and other food items have gone up. Now, we are demanding an increase in rates,” said the owner of a private agency that prepares meals for patients at a private hospital.
Some hospitals are, however, not increasing their rates immediately.
The AMRI Hospitals group is trying to reduce operational costs by increasing “operational efficiency”.
"We have decided not to revise rates now. We are trying to increase operational efficiency…. The doctors are being requested to make optimum use of consumables, which can reduce costs. We'll wait for six months to see how the measures work and then take a decision," said Rupak Barua, group CEO, AMRI.
The hospital chain has written to insurance companies for rate revisions, which Barua said has been pending since November 2019. Around 25 per cent of the patients admitted to AMRI hospitals are insured.
Some of the insurance companies said they were not ready to revise the rates immediately.
"The rates are different for different hospitals. We are trying standardisation of package rates depending on several criteria. But we cannot increase rates for all hospitals," said Saurav Kariwala, assistant manager, health, National Insurance Co. Ltd.
The company, he said, has suffered a loss of Rs 1,900 crore during the Covid pandemic.