State hospital medical fee rates to go up

The medical service fees charged by state hospitals will increase about 5-10% on average next month, Public Health Minister Pradit Sintanawarong said yesterday.

The hike is due to the minimum wage increase and higher cost of drugs and medical equipment, he said.

The last time the ministry raised the medical service fee rate was in 2004. That rate no longer reflects the cost of providing medical services, Dr Pradit said.

The fee will rise significantly for services that require the use of complex technology, he said.

Special diagnostics service fees, such as brain and heart disease diagnosis, will rise by more than 50% because they use advanced equipment and new technology. Radiology fees will increase 23%, while medical technology service fees will go up 8%, Dr Pradit said.

However, some fees will be reduced as the technology they require has become more readily available.

This means overall medical service fees will rise by about 5-10% on average, he said. The new rates will apply at every state hospital, and also at health insurance firms.

Public health officials are now working on the details of the fee rise, which will also be submitted to the Comptroller-General's Department for consideration.

The proposal is expected to be implemented in the next two weeks, Dr Pradit said, adding the hike would not affect most people.

About 99% of Thais are members of one of three health schemes _ 48 million are covered under the universal healthcare scheme and the rest are either members of the Social Security Fund or the medical scheme for state officials.

Each health scheme will have to manage its budget to bear the increased cost for members, he said. Only foreigners and some Thai patients who are not members of any health schemes will be affected by the fee rise, Dr Pradit said.

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Writer: Paritta Wangkiat