Patients using the new Bt30 universal healthcare programme will be allowed to change hospitals four times a year once the revived programme gets underway on September 1, the public health minister said on Monday.
Witthaya Buranasiri said the Bt30-per-visit universal healthcare programme will begin nationwide on September 1 with the participation of community hospitals, general hospitals, regional-centre hospitals and some private hospitals.
Under the revived programme, patients will be able to use their ID cards to request a change of hospitals to one nearer their homes four times a year, compared to the twice a year earlier permitted.
The Bt30 universal healthcare programme was initiated by the Thai Rak Thai government. When the Democrats became the leader of the coalition, they modified the project and turned it into a totally free universal healthcare service.
Pheu Thai decided to revive the Bt30 per visit healthcare programme on the grounds that it would reduce some of the budget burden on the government and hospitals involved. However, some observers say that Pheu Thai simply wanted to revive the signature of its populist scheme that helped it win the elections.
Witthaya said patients would be required to pay Bt30 in the event they required medications. However, 21 groups of people would be exempted from the Bt30 payment. These groups include low-income people, local administration officials, people who are older than 60, the handicapped, Buddhist monks, nuns and novices, and Islamic religious leaders, as well children under 12 years.