COVID-19: 82 per cent patients in Maharashtra treated free of cost at public hospitals; 52K in MumbaiREPRESENTATIONAL IMAGEOnly 15% of patients have opted for treatment at private hospitals, data shows.

Public hospitals have played a major part in the fight against Covid-19, according to data from the state health department. More than 82 per cent of patients in Maharashtra have been treated free of cost at public hospitals or private facilities covered under the state’s Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY).

According to the data, as on June 25, 1,00,985 (82.78 per cent) patients have been treated at public hospitals and private hospitals empanelled under the MJPJAY scheme.

Only 18,228 patients, or 14.94 per cent, have opted for treatment at private hospitals that are not empanelled under MJPJAY scheme. 2,778 patients have been treated at central government hospitals or hospitals run by the defence or railways.

In Mumbai, 52,000 of the 60,000 Covid-19 patients treated have received free care at MJPJAY-empanelled hospitals.

So far, the state government has reimbursed around Rs 300 crore to hospitals that have treated Covid-19 patients under the scheme.

“The data reflects that the bulk of the patients have received free and cashless treatment. This is the highest in the country for any state,” said Sudhakar Shinde, chief executive, MJPJAY.

“More than one lakh people have received free treatment. Only a small number of people have been treated at private hospitals. There, too, we have capped the rates and made them affordable,” he said.

Shinde said the state government had set up a helpline where people can get information about the scheme. “People can call 155388 for details of the MJPJAY scheme. We have already extended the scheme for people who have white ration cards,” he said.

Sudhakar Shinde, who is the nodal officer for the MJPJAY scheme
In May, Health Minister Rajesh Tope had announced that the state would offer 100 per cent medical cover under MJPJAY. In other words, the state’s medical insurance scheme, accessed by the economically weaker sections of society, now has no income barrier, making it available for everyone.

According to officials, all ration card holders can now get free treatment under MJPJAY. It is the state’s flagship scheme, started in 2012, to provide cashless and free treatment up to Rs 1.5 lakh per family per year. The scheme covers 1,000 treatment packages and has 1,000 empanelled hospitals. Before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, the scheme was availed of by the yellow and orange ration card holders, but it has now been extended to white ration card holders as well.

In Mumbai, 54 hospitals are empanelled under the scheme. In Mumbai Metropolitan Region, there are around 150 hospitals, while across the state 1,000 hospitals are enrolled.

“This shows that the bulk of Covid-19 treatment has taken place at public hospitals and at MJPJAY empanelled hospitals. Very few patients have taken treatment at private hospitals. That’s where the cases of inflated bills and overcharging have been reported. The bulk of the burden has been shouldered by public hospitals,” said a senior health department official.

Shinde said 31,305 patients have undergone free dialysis since the pandemic outbreak. “47,667 patients were given cancer treatment. Apart from this, patients received cardiac treatment. Surgeries were also carried out.”

Shinde said all key tertiary care public hospitals were onboard the scheme. “There are many private hospitals as well. Some of the private hospitals that are empanelled include Somaiya, Sushrut and Lifeline.”

However, big private hospitals like Jaslok, Lilavati, Breach Candy and Hinduja are not part of the MJPJAY scheme.

“At these hospitals we have capped the rates for Covid-19 treatment. Auditors have also been appointed to verify the bills and ensure that there is no overcharging,” Shinde said.

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