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India's health care emergency predates COVID

No safety net and expensive medical bills sink many patients into poverty

The emergency room of a New Delhi hospital. COVID-19 has forced millions of Indians to seek care at expensive private hospitals whose bills often wipe out family nest eggs.   © Reuters

NEW DELHI -- Mukund Bhasin, a government employee, remembers searching all over Delhi to find a hospital bed for his wife who had developed acute breathing difficulties after testing positive for COVID. "I knocked on the doors of at least 10 hospitals before one took my wife in," Mukund said.

It was 40 km from their home, and it turned out to be a temporary arrangement. Four days after Asha was admitted, Mukund was informed that the hospital's COVID supplies were running low and Asha, whose oxygen levels were plummeting, would need to be moved to another facility.

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