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Private hospitals warned not to charge Covid patients for now

The Health Service Support Department on Friday warned private hospitals against charging Covid-19 patients for medical expenses, saying the disease has not yet been removed from the emergency list.

Dr Tharet Krutnairawiwong, director-general of the Health Service Support Department, said Covid-19 is still on the list of Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP), so private hospitals cannot deny medical services to patients or charge them for the services.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul had said earlier that Covid-19 treatment would be removed from the UCEP list from the beginning of March.

Tharet said some private hospitals have misunderstood the statement and they have started collecting medical fees from some Covid-19 patients, in the process violating the Hospitals Act of BE 2541 (1998).

Tharet said if the Public Health Ministry has not issued an announcement to formally remove Covid-19 treatment from UCEP, all hospitals must strictly observe the previous announcement regarding the disease treatment.

He said before the ministry makes an announcement, it would have to conduct a meeting of the Comptroller-General’s Department, the National Health Security Office, the Social Security Office, and the Division of Health Economics and Health Security.

The meeting would be needed to get state hospitals and hospitals, where Covid-19 patients are entitled to receive treatments, prepared to receive the patients once the Covid-19 treatment is removed from the UCEP list, Tharet added.

He said the Public Health Ministry will also create a special UCEP Plus list to allow Covid-19 patients with severe conditions or who need respirators or need ICU care to receive treatment at any hospital free of charge.

“Hospitals that charge patients for treatment of Covid-19 face a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment, a 40,000 baht fine, or both, for violating the Medical Facility Act,” warned Tharet.

Published : February 19, 2022