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New UCEP scheme for Covid-19 patients gets cabinet nod


A cabinet meeting on Tuesday approved the Public Health Ministry’s new Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) scheme for Covid-19 patients, called “UCEP Covid Plus”, which will go into effect from March 16, Department of Health Service Support director-general Dr Thares Krainairawiwong said on Thursday.

The ministry on March 1 adjusted the UCEP condition for Covid-19 patients in the green category, or those who have mild or no symptoms.

Under the old condition, patients received three days of free treatment at any facility before being switched to hospital treatment under their state health insurance scheme. But after March 1, those who tested positive for Covid-19 but do not require critical care have to pay their own medical bills if they choose to seek treatment at private hospitals. Green patients can still receive free Covid-19 treatment under home/community isolation.

“The UCEP Covid Plus scheme will provide free hospital treatment to patients who contract Covid-19 and are classified in yellow or red categories by doctors,” said Thares. “Yellow and red patients will not need to pay out of their own pockets, as the National Health Security Office will cover the treatment at any hospital,” he said.

In general, yellow group patients refer to those who have moderate Covid-19 symptoms or underlying health problems that require close monitoring, while red category patients are those who have severe symptoms and/or require respirators.

National Institute for Emergency Medicine secretary-general Dr Atchariya Phaengma said that in order to be classified in the yellow or red category, Covid-19 patients must display one or more of the following symptoms:

> Acute respiratory distress, a stop in heartbeat, in a shock or coma, or having a seizure after being admitted to hospital.

> Having high fever of over 39 degrees Celsius for more than 24 hours, or having an oxygen saturation level of less than 94 per cent.

> Needing to take more than 25 breaths per minute (applicable to adults). Children who have trouble breathing, become lethargic and refuse to eat or drink milk.

> Having a chronic disease that requires constant monitoring, which includes respiratory disease, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease or diabetes.

> Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy or autoimmune therapy.

> Obese persons weighting over 100 kilograms or with a BMI of more than 35 kilograms per square metre, and pregnant women.

To avail of the UCEP Covid Plus scheme, call hotline 1669 and wait for an ambulance to take you to the nearest available hospital. Doctors will diagnose your symptoms and determine whether or not you are qualified for free treatment under the scheme.

“The UCEP Covid Plus will cover all medical fees, drugs, meals and a standard room necessary for the treatment of patients’ symptoms,” said Atchariya.

“However, it will not cover expenses for special rooms or special meals that the hospital might have. If you want these services you have to pay from your own pocket,” Atchariya added.

Published : March 10, 2022

By : THE NATION