Bt30 health scheme still lacks funds, says official
The government's low-cost healthcare scheme, which covers the majority of the population, is still under-funded, a senior health official said yesterday.
This had been a problem since before the full implementation of the Bt30 scheme in 2002, said Dr Manit Theeratantikanont, a deputy permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry.
"Since the funding is insufficient in the first place, how on earth could it be managed to make it sufficient?" asked the doctor at a seminar on the future of the scheme, which was intended to provide universal health coverage.
The scheme changed the health-budget system from "on demand" to per capita funding in order to meet the constantly rising cost of the nation's healthcare.
"I hope Dr Sa-nguan [Nitayarumphong] can find a way to manage the scheme smoothly and not get mauled," said Manit, referring to the fact that the National Health Security Office, headed by Sa-nguan, is taking over the scheme's financial management from the Public Health Ministry in October.
Manit said the considerably higher workload facing healthcare workers under the Bt30 scheme was a crucial problem.
The growth in private healthcare has been fuelled by the rising number of state health workers resigning to pursue better pay and working conditions in private hospitals, he said.
Currently, the Bt30 scheme takes care of about 47.5 million people, accounting for 75 per cent of the population, Sa-nguan said.
From October, its budget will be allocated directly to provinces to let them manage it on their own, rather than being centrally managed by the Public Health Ministry, he said.
Caretaker Deputy Public Health Minister Anutin Charnveerakul said the government wished to see the scheme become the "Bt30 cure that treats all diseases", as advertised on its launch.
"It should be a self-explanatory scheme rather than one requiring someone to keep explaining the exceptions to its coverage," said Anutin, who conceded that the scheme was suffering due to insufficient funding.