The cost of hospitalisation in the ICU for the treatment of COVID-19 in India is equivalent to the seven-month salary or more of an average employee, self-employed or casual worker, a study has revealed.
In one of its kind study, the researchers associated with the Public Health Foundation of India and Duke Global Health Institute found that the mean cost for COVID testing was Rs 2,229 per test in a private facility and free in public facilities, the New Indian Express reported.
Also, the average cost of 10-day hospital isolation in a private facility was Rs 67,470, whereas the cost of home isolation was Rs 829. The cost of hospitalisation in the ICU cost Rs 128,110.
This means the regular employees would need to spend the equivalent of 124 days of wages to afford hospital isolation. On the other hand, self-employed and casual workers would spend 170 days, and 257 days respectively. The cost of hospitalisation in an ICU would require 481 days, 318 days, and 232 days of work for casual workers, regular employees, and self-employed workers, respectively.
Salaries Not Sufficient
"Thus, affordability of COVID services is far worse among casual workers, wherein annual wage falls short of ICU hospitalisation cost for 90% of workers and hospital isolation costs for 48% of workers. Among self-employed workers, the proportions of their annual wages," noted the researchers.
The analysis found that the annual salaries of 51% of regular employees were not sufficient to pay for ICU admission, whereas 15% of them could not afford hospital isolation.
"Households are subject to considerable financial burden rendering a sizable segment unable to afford COVID services," the researchers stated.
From April 2020 to March 2021, the estimated total costs to households for out-of-pocket payments for COVID-19 testing and treatment was over Rs 34000 crore. The total costs to the government over the same period was Rs 30,000 crore.
However, the associated total costs to households were far higher at about Rs 29,000 crore as against Rs 34,000 crore during the financial year 2020-21, owing to the increasing number of positive cases.
The study further revealed that the estimated cost for the government was about 12% from April to June 2021. This equals the annual budget of states, and central government put together.
Also Read: Women Left Behind! Gender Disparities In Healthcare, Jobs On Rise