With the substantial spread of novel coronavirus across the country, people are beginning to truly consider the possibility of testing positive for COVID. A large aspect of that is what kind of treatment one can get as well as how much of a dent it would make in your finances. Speculation is rampant regarding the cost of medical bills, which can cause unnecessary worry and panic at the least and deter people from seeking appropriate treatment at worst. 

To that end, we wanted to help you understand the costs of COVID treatment. In an ideal situation, you can take these numbers into consideration when purchasing insurance, coronavirus specific or otherwise, or if you’re planning on setting aside some funds because you can’t afford health insurance right away. 

With the country’s COVID infection rate on the rise, government hospitals were going to struggle to cope sooner or later. As a result, private hospitals are also allowed to treat COVID patients. Regardless of what kind of hospital you receive treatment in, it is important to remember that there are several factors that influence the cost of it. Broadly, these factors are the following:

  1. How old you are
  2. Whether you have any pre-existing conditions (things like BP issues or diabetes or asthma)
  3. How severe the infection is in your case specifically
  4. Any complications in your treatment
  5. In case of the above, usage of ICU, isolation wards, ventilator support, etc
  6. Which state you’re in

Patients have started filing claims with their insurance companies for their medical costs and it is from these claims that we can get a better idea of how much, on average, treatment for coronavirus costs. The approximately 5600 claims to insurance companies amounted to around Rs 70 crores, which means the cost of treatment per person, on average, equals to around Rs. 1.25 lakhs. 

What does this money pay for? Doctor fees, oxygen, ECGs, dressings, drug administration, lab usage, radiology, nursing, pharmacy, etc. Only a fraction of all affected patients requires critical care, which includes the usage of ventilators, PPEs and isolation wards, the factors that drive up the cost of treatment. That being said, the severity of the illness in each patient does dramatically affect the cost of treatment. 

Assuming that a patient is admitted for 14 days (the usual duration it takes to recover from coronavirus), an isolation ward in a private hospital in Delhi can cost up to Rs 70,000 more for the overall stay than it costs for the same in a private hospital in Telangana; a private hospital in Karnataka would actually cost over Rs 1 lakh more. Being admitted in the ICU without a ventilator can cost anywhere between Rs. 1.05 and 2.10 lakhs (depending on the state where you receive the treatment) while an ICU with a ventilator costs between Rs. 1.2 and 3.5 lakhs.  

These are not insignificant amounts for people to pay. The state you receive treatment in also greatly affects the cost that a patient bears, which should not be the case. It is perhaps for this reason that the Supreme Court recently directed the central government to cap the costs of coronavirus treatment at private hospitals. Many state governments have already taken measures to do so at the request of financially burdened patients and their families. Even so, most experts believe that Rs. 1.25 lakhs is an accurate average cost for COVID treatment. 

Though the costs of coronavirus treatments are alarming, there is a fact that is even more so. Given the total COVID cases in the country, a comparatively small number of patients have filed claims with insurance companies for medical costs. This has led insurers to suspect that only a little over 3% of patients who have tested positive for COVID had medical insurance to fall back on. 

The emotional and physical burden of sickness in the family can be a big enough challenge without having to pay lakhs for the treatment. If for no other reason than not having to pay that kind of money as a lump sum out of pocket, medical insurance is a sound investment, but the fact that it covers you against future illnesses and medical emergencies is an important reason to do so as well. 

If the cost of insurance is deterring you from getting one, you should know that there are now affordable, government-backed health insurance policies available, both for coronavirus, which we’ve discussed in a previous post, and in general, which you can read more about here. If you can afford a more comprehensive plan, we highly recommend that you choose that, but these are reasonable alternatives that will be of use at least in the moderate run. 

Though we wanted to give you relevant and accurate information about coronavirus treatment, we hope you don’t have to use it and that you’re all staying safe and healthy.