HC directs insurance companies to clear bills quickly to prevent delay in patient discharge

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New Delhi, Apr 28 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Wednesday said insurance companies cannot take 6-7 hours for approving bills of COVID-19 patients as it delays their discharge from hospitals and those in need for beds have to wait longer.

Justice Prathiba M Singh said if the court comes to know of an insurance company or a third-party administrator (TPA) processing insurance claims taking 6-7 hours for clearing bills, contempt action would be taken against them.

A few minutes after her order, a similar direction was passed by a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli which directed insurance companies and TPAs to ensure that time taken to grant approvals to bills was reduced to a reasonable amount as there were long queues of people outside hospitals waiting for beds during the massive surge in COVID-19 infections. Justice Singh said in her order that insurance companies or TPAs should not take more than 30-60 minutes to grant approval to the bills on receiving the request from hospitals and directed insurance regulator IRDAI to issue instructions in this regard.

The division bench, in its order, said delay in discharging patients was leading to delay in admitting needy patients and was causing more suffering to them.

The direction by the division bench came after it was informed by some hospitals and lawyers that delay in approvals by insurance companies and TPAs was resulting in delay in discharging patients and admitting new ones.

The bench was hearing several pleas with regard to lack of oxygen, medicines, beds and ventilators in the national capital and ramping up of testing.

Justice Singh's order came while hearing several individuals' plea regarding non-availability of Remdesivir and beds for patients in dire need of the same.

In order to speed up the discharge process, Justice Singh issued a direction to hospitals to start the process of admission of new patients side by side with the discharge process, so that no bed remains vacant for long.

During the day, Justice Singh ensured that beds were made available to all those petitioners whose pleas were listed before her. PTI HMP SKV SA