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Iran: Heavy Costs of Treating Coronavirus Patients

 

Furthermore, despite passing six months from the virus emergence in the country, there is still no supervisory institution to control treatment costs.

Contrary to officials’ hollow promises—particularly President Hassan Rouhani’s remarks—there is no free treatment nor free Covid-19 tests. “The government and insurance department pay 90 percent of the [treating] costs and citizens only pay 10 percent,” Rouhani said in April.

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Studies show that in private hospitals, the minimum cost of coronavirus treatment reaches 350 million rials (approximately $1,400). However, it is impossible to estimate the maximum price. Several people say, “Sometimes, these costs reach 1.3-1.5 billion rials ($5,200-6,000). Of course, this is apart from the cost of private nurses and certain medications.

The cost of hospitalization and treatment, both in public or private hospitals, varies considerably depending on the intensity of the disease, the duration of hospitalization, the type of medication used, and the number of days spent in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

“If a patient had been infected with low-intensity illness and was hospitalized in a private hospital for only one week, the cost of treatment is 300-400 million rials ($1,200-1,600),” the health insurance manager of an insurance company said about the cost of treating coronavirus patients.

“However, if the patient contracted acute coronavirus disease and needs to be hospitalized in the ICU, the cost will be 11.3 billion rials ($4,000-$5,200), although we have medical evidence that a patient had paid 1.5 billion rials (approximately $6,000) for 20 days hospitalization. Or for instance, a patient had paid 200 million ($800) rial for a private nurse for 20 days of hospitalization, which means 10 million ($40) rials per day only for a nurse,” the health insurance manager added.

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What About Public Hospitals?

The cost of coronavirus treatment at public hospitals is lower than private ones. According to the medical staff of two different public hospitals, treatment for insurance holders are completely free. However, patients who do not have insurance must pay between 50-300 million rials ($200-1,200) for treatment.

“We have medical receipts from public hospitals like Labafinejad, Rasoul Akram, and Khomeini, indicate that sometimes treatment costs reach 170-250 million rials ($680-1,000),” another health insurance manager said.

In one public hospital, a patient had paid 220 million rials ($880) for treatment. Of course, on average, the cost of treating coronavirus is nearly 70 million rials ($280), and this only includes hospitalization costs. The patients must pay for medication and other necessities separately.

Notably, according to the labor law, the minimum workers’ salary is equal to 35 million rials ($146) per month. But many workers have not even received this meager amount for months, which has prompted them to stop working and protest companies’ owners and officials for their indifference.

In an interview with the state-run Khabafoori website, Hosseinali Shahryari, the head of the Parliament (Majlis) Health Commission, acknowledged 540-, 200-, and 150-million-rial receipts in private hospitals for treating coronavirus patients. Citizens say the hospitalization costs are not lower in public hospitals.

“The average cost of coronavirus treatment is around 50 million rials ($200) in the ICU and 25 million rials ($100) in general sections,” said Deputy Health Minister Qassem Janbabaei.

It is worth noting that treating Covid-19 patients in public hospitals depends on having enough empty beds to admit new patients. According to deans of medical sciences universities in different provinces, almost 90 percent of ICU beds have been occupied by coronavirus patients, let alone general sections.

Rather than developing the country’s health apparatus, Iranian authorities have squandered the country’s national resources on funding their extremist proxies in the Middle East, accelerating their nuclear bomb-making projects, and purchasing advanced equipment to suppress protests. In fact, the mullahs implement their costly foreign policies at the expense of millions of Iranians who have been pushed below the poverty line and have nothing to feed their families or protect them against the onslaught of coronavirus.