Why does Black Fungus treatment require a health insurance policy?
Mr. Sudhir Sahay (52-year-old from Nasik) recovered from the COVID-19 in May 2021 but lost his left eye due to a black fungus infection. He had a moderate infection, and his oxygen saturation levels were around 87. That’s why he was admitted to a private hospital for his treatment. After 14 days, the hospital handed a bill of Rs.2.5 lakh to him for his coronavirus treatment. Within a month, his left eye started drooping, and he felt extreme pain and discomfort. Although he thought it was a normal eye infection earlier, when consulting an ophthalmologist, the doctor suggested an MRI test. But his MRI report revealed that he had Mucormycosis. In the midweek of June, he was again admitted to another private hospital that handed him an amount of Rs. 10 lakh for the treatment of black fungus. His family was not in a condition to arrange the money; thus, they took help from friends and relatives for his black fungus treatment.
Over the past one and half years, India has been struggling with the lethal coronavirus pandemic that has created a wreck everywhere. But, now, the country is facing another challenge, i.e., Mucormycosis or black fungus. People who have a history of the COVID-19 pandemic are more susceptible to the black fungus disease. Even WHO has also claimed that the rate of Mucormycosis in India is 70 times higher than in any other country.
Black Fungus Epidemic
Till now, India has registered more than 45000 active cases of the black fungus, of which 4000 people have already lost their lives. The fatality rate of Mucormycosis is 54 percent, and it is fatal for people with high diabetic conditions and those recovering from the deadly coronavirus infection. Since the black fungus cases are rising exponentially, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has instructed states to declare Mucormycosis as an epidemic. More than 9 Indian states have declared Black Fungus as an epidemic. To cope with this deadly epidemic, many states are accumulating various drugs to treat black fungus.
Mucormycosis treatment cost in India
The black fungus treatment cost is quite high in India because antifungal medicines are very expensive. Patients who need hospitalization may need to spend a few lakhs for black fungus remedy within four and six weeks.
In the pre-COVID-19 situation, many states used to treat Mucormycosis patients at half of the cost that they are being charged today. This is because, at that time, there was no scarcity of medicines and hospital beds. But due to the sudden rise of the black fungus cases, there is a severe shortage of life-saving drugs, and even available drugs have become expensive.
How to cure black fungus?
Antifungal medications like Posaconazole, Isavuconazole, and Amphotericin B are useful in bringing down the growth of the infection. In some cases, surgeries are required to remove dead or infected tissues.
During the peak time, pharmacists used to charge Rs 8,000-10,000 for an injection. An infected patient needs to take 5-6 injections per day to control the growth of the virus. According to the treatment protocol, if the fungus has reached the nose, sinus, or palate of the patient’s body, doctors should prescribe a 5 mg dose per kilogram (kg) of body weight. So, the recommended dosage for a 70 kg person could be 350 mg (with each vial consisting of 50 mg of the drugs).
If the patient is suffering from a moderate infection, then he/she needs seven vials according to the body weight. This means the person needs to pay Rs 70,000 per day.
If the condition becomes severe, doctors used to prescribe 9-10 vials per day. The cost of medication could be Rs 90,000-100,000 a day. This is truly an expensive treatment, and it will burn your pocket utterly.
How to protect yourself from black fungus?
- Comorbid patients should monitor glucose level
- Those who have a history of trauma, burns, or coma should take extra precautions
- While visiting dusty places, wear a face shield along with a mask
- Avoid damp environments
- Avoid humid places
- Wear shoes and full-sleeved shirts while gardening
- After coming in contact with contaminated sources, go for bathing
- Don’t consume steroids in case of COVID infection without consulting a doctor
Is black fungus an infectious disease?
Black fungus is not a contagious disease, and thus, it doesn’t spread from animals to humans. However, fungal spores are present in the environment, and if a person inhales, they get attacked by this fungus.
Insurance policies will give relief to policyholders against the back fungus
People who have comprehensive health insurance policies don’t need to worry about the black fungus treatment cost. Because comprehensive health insurance policies usually bear the entire treatment costs related to black fungus. These insurance plans come with an in-built feature that compensates for all types of fungal infections apart from regular and critical illnesses. Thus, it’s not necessary to purchase a separate add-on or rider to get coverage for black fungus or any other fungal infection.
If you own a comprehensive health insurance policy and got infected with Mucormycosis, COVID-19, or any other ailment, you can initiate a claim against the treatment of the specific condition. You just need to send an intimation of hospitalization to your insurer and then find out cashless network hospitals of your insurer near you.
Purchase health insurance of Rs 20 Lakh sum assured for an individual and Rs.1 Crore for a family floater plan. You will get the best possible treatment at your choice of the hospital without stretching your financial condition.
While purchasing a health insurance policy, you should prudently check the coverage for complications and life-threatening diseases that are related to coronavirus. If your policy doesn’t offer any coverage for these, then discard or upgrade your health policy.