COVID: More hotels, hospitals tie-up after IRDA clears confusion over insurance settlement
Kolkata - More hotels have come forward to function as satellite units of hospitals where COVID patients with mild or no symptoms could be housed, after insurance regulator, IRDA removed an ambiguity that had earlier created some uncertainties in settling claims, an official said.
In view of the increasing number of coronavirus cases, several state governments have set up make-shift or temporary hospitals while a number of private hospitals have tied up with hotels to function as their satellite units.
"Around 10 more hotels (in Kolkata) with 334 rooms have written to the state government and the hospital association for tie-up," Hotel and Restaurants Association of Eastern India (HRAEI), Sudesh Poddar, told PTI on Tuesday.
Earlier, 7-8 hotels offered 250 odd rooms to accommodate coronavirus infected patients and they have witnessed 75 per cent occupancy, he said.
But there was a grey area in settlement of insurance claims in these cases as those are not hospitals, and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) recently removed that ambiguity, Poddar said.
In a recent circular, IRDA said when a policyholder, who is diagnosed as COVID-19 positive, is admitted to any make-shift hospital on the advice of a doctor or government authorities, notwithstanding the definition of hospital specified in the terms and conditions of policy contract, the treatment costs shall be settled by insurers.
Only the newly-introduced Covid specific policies recognize such make-shift facilities for treatment and quarantine.
Without any directive from IRDA in this regard, insurance companies would have rejected most of the claims from other policy holders who are COVID-19 patients and lodged in such facilities including hotels, an official of a third party administrator (TPA) said.
In West Bengal, the hotel-hospital model is win-win situation for all stakeholders, Poddar said.
He said that the model is successful only in West Bengal as the government did not force the hotels to function as temporary hospitals and intervene in the pricing mechanism.
"We are trying to expand this facility across the state so that there is no death of hospital beds," the hotelier body official said.
All leading private hospitals in the metropolis have set up satellite facilities or tied up with hotels to function as such units to house COVID patients with mild or no symptoms.
These units leave hospital beds free for critical patients and allow hotels to survive and protect employment in the hospitality industry at a time when normal guests are scarce.
Only mid-category hotels have come forward to tie up with hospitals so far and five-star hotels may also join the fray to stay afloat, if the situation prolongs, industry sources said.