The Commerce Ministry is expected to move forward with a plan that will require private hospitals to display their prices for medical services, medical supplies and medicines in order to ensure that patients can be aware of the costs of any procedure or consultation before going ahead and using the services.
The aim is to ensure customers don’t get any nasty shocks in regard to the amount they have to pay after having already received treatment.
This is good news for expats and tourists visiting Thailand, however all foreigners in particular should ensure they have adequate medical insurance cover whilst in Thailand so that they can be covered for medical expenses if anything unforeseen happens.
Some expats, for example, those who come from the UK could easily find themselves lulled into a false sense of security owing to the fact that their home country has free National Health Service (NHS) treatment. Although some may criticize the UK system for being overstretched, overall the service enables UK citizens free access to virtually all health services, even if a wait is required in many cases.
In Thailand private healthcare can be cheaper than some other countries, but it still needs to be paid for. Even with medical insurance there is often a limit to the payout. Thus the new system of having private hospitals display their prices will mean that those in need of hospital services can shop around before seeking treatment.
Another way to limit risk is to ensure that a full annual health check up is completed so that early warning signs can be detected for any serious medical conditions. Then there will be enough time to shop around in Thailand or even go back to your home country for treatment. Some insurance companies require a check-up anyway, others may limit your cover if something is uncovered, but either way you will avoid the shock of an emergency hospital visit in the event that you collapse or feel sudden pain.
Of course accidents can happen that can land you in hospital so it is worth looking to secure accident insurance as well as medical insurance. Accident insurance can take many forms of coverage but you should try to secure coverage in case of accident as a passenger in a taxi or on a motorbike or even simply as a pedestrian walking the streets. After all anything can happen in the blink of an eye.
Commerce permanent secretary Boonyarit Kalayanamit, was quoted as saying about the price lists, “The price tags must be easily visible and understandable,” adding “They may start with 1,000 items in the initial period.”
Mr. Boonyarit will also set up a study group to determine the production costs of medicines and services in private hospitals. The study will be complete by late March 2019 .
Private hospitals will be required to itemize charges and separate medical costs from other charges such as private room rates as well as additional charges that may be payable, for example, if doctors detect other diseases or conditions during a hospital visit that they plan to treat.
The cabinet already approved the Commerce Ministry’s proposal to include healthcare and medical charges on the state price control list in Jan 2019 in order to reign in prices and deal with the concerns of the rising costs of private health care.