THE PUBLIC Health Ministry’s Department of Health Service Support has provided training to public hospitals in tourist provinces to help them collect fees from foreigners, director-general Dr Nattawuth Prasertsiripong said yesterday.
The move is aimed at reducing hospital debts, he said.
The department’s Medical Hub Division head, Saowapa Jongkit-tipong, said training had been organised in Trat province for 200 public hospital staff. The region’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) policy had attracted more long-staying foreigners to the area.
Earlier, sessions were conducted in Chiang Mai, Phuket, Surat Thani and Ubon Ratchathani, she added.
The Medical Hub Division had recently reported that there were 40 million foreign visitors to Thailand per year and many sought treatment for ailments or injuries at public hospitals and many failed to fully pay the bills, resulting in multi-million baht in debt.
The department since March 1 has established central claim centres in Nonthaburi and at Suvarnabhumi airport as well as pilot regional centres in Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phuket, Phang Nga and Surat Thani to follow up with foreigners whose payments were overdue. The department also discussed three health insurance claims system.
The short-term phase was to make health insurance for specific ailments with a low premium rate and to impose a requirement for a foreigner to have an insurance policy before entering Thailand.
The middle-term scheme involved boosting public hospitals’ potential to support foreign patients. The long-term solution was for all tour companies to be required to arrange insurance policies for their foreign customers.