Medical fees set to rise by 10 - 15%
New rates for medical services - up by an average of 12.5 per cent - will take effect at state hospitals within the next two weeks, Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong has said. Some services may be cheaper, but, overall, prices are expected to rise by between 10 and 15 per cent.The cost of some operations is likely to rise significantly. The fee for a lung or heart transplant will rise from Bt45,000 to Bt64,000, while a liver-transplant will jump from Bt40,000 to Bt54,000.
With private hospitals also expected to raise service fees too, Pradit yesterday unveiled a plan to appoint "mediators" to look into consumers' complaints if they believe their medical bill is too high.
"A committee of mediators will determine whether treatments and prices are reasonable," the minister said. C-quality medical-service providers, for example, should not charge the same rate as the top-grade hospitals, he said.
Pradit said the Public Health Ministry planned to adjust medical service fees in response to changing costs. However, he expected little impact on people as most are covered by the government's universal healthcare scheme.
Currently, the scheme covered 48 million people, he said. About 31 million used it at least four times a year, while about a million used the service 12+ times a year.
Some 10 million other Thais can exercise their right to free medical treatment under the social-security scheme.
Pradit said only foreigners and people who did not exercise their rights to free treatment would be affected by the fee hike at state hospitals. Asked about a possible hike in premiums for health insurance, Pradit said he did not think people needed such insurance. "We have offered even free heart-transplant surgery. No insurance firms can offer that even if you pay Bt20,000 premium a year," he said.
Dr Sopon Mekthon, deputy permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, said the current rate had been in place for nine years. "So, it's time to make adjustment," he said.
He said the ministry would put the proposed changes to Pradit for him to consider and approve this week. After Pradit grants approval, in his capacity as the minister, the new rate will take effect at all state hospitals.
"The country has about 800 state hospitals," Sopon said.
He said the rates would list the maximum price state hospitals could charge. "But in case the cost is lower at any hospital, its director may lower the fee," he explained.