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Pvt hospitals, labs cashing in on swine flu surge

Amid the surge of swine influenza cases, the demand for the swine influenza test has increased drastically and some private hospitals have increased their rates. One test for H1N1 (swine flu) costs between Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000, but some hospitals and laboratories have been charging double the amount. State officials said with limited public facilities offering the test within the city, there should be some move towards restricting test prices.

A patient who visited a private hospital in south Mumbai had to pay Rs 12,000-15,000 for getting tested for swine influenza. “A few days back I started developing symptoms. I thought it was just a viral infection but after three days the symptoms got more severe. I went to a private hospital for the test which charged me double the amount” he said.

Health officials have raised concerns over the swine influenza testing price which is usually between Rs 2,500-Rs 5,000, asserting the need for a price cap. “If one family member is affected with swine influenza then everyone needs to get tested, meaning they would need to pay Rs 20,000-Rs 40,000, depending on the hospital charges. It seems hospitals are grabbing the chance to earn more through tests which needs to be stopped,” said an official.

A state health official said when H1N1 emerged in 2009, tests cost around Rs 5,000. The cost decreased as more laboratories began offering it. Free Press Journal

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