The government's failure to sufficiently fund the National Health Security Office (NHSO) has caused state hospitals to raise their medical fees, the Democrats say.
Thianchai Suwanpen, a Demcorat MP for Tak, yesterday questioned the Public Health Ministry's plan to increase medical service fees at state hospitals.
Yingluck Shinawatra's Pheu Thai government is not disbursing enough money to the NHSO, he said.
The NHSO is in charge of the 30-baht universal healthcare scheme that provides healthcare to 48 million people. It is one of three government-run schemes.
Members of the 30-baht universal healthcare scheme are entitled to 2,755 baht per person per year.
The rate will remain frozen until 2014.
Mr Thianchai said state hospitals are not getting enough money from the funding formula to keep up with the cost of providing medical services.
He questioned why the budgets allocated to the NHSO to run the universal healthcare scheme have not increased in line with inflation and higher wages for medical staff.
The Public Health Ministry said recently it would increase medical treatment fees by 5-10% on average at every state hospital next month.
The higher fees will take effect only for patients who are not covered by any of the three health schemes.
The ministry said it made the move to keep service costs in line with the minimum daily wage increase and the higher cost of drugs and equipment.
Some hospitals said insufficient funding for the universal healthcare system was contributing to their ongoing financial shortfall.
Deputy Public Health Minister Cholanan Srikaew said the government initially allocated 2,855 baht per head per year for the universal healthcare scheme.
However, the Budget Bureau later trimmed the rate to 2,755 baht.
The rate reflected the actual cost of providing medical services, excluding the cost of medical development and profits, he said.
The government said recently it wanted to increase the state subsidy for the scheme to 2,900 baht per head per year, Mr Cholanan said.
He also defended the ministry's medical service fee hike in state hospitals. He said the higher fees reflect the real cost of providing medical services.
Mr Cholanan said the medical service fees at public hospitals under the ministry have not increased since 2004.
The ministry had to hike the fees as 758 new medical services were added to the list of items which had not been covered in 2004.
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- Writer: Mongkol Bangprapa