Healthcare fees to rise

Public Health Minister Pradit Sintawanarong has insisted that a rise in state hospital fees will not affect the level of care offered to patients.

The ministry plans to increase fees by 5% to 10% on average at state hospitals nationwide. Some specialist service fees, such as brain and heart disease diagnoses, will rise by more than 50%.

Mr Pradit, speaking on Saturday on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s weekly radio programme, said fees for more than 700 medical services would be increased.

He said the policy aims to reflect the real cost of medical services. The fees have not been updated since 2004.

The minister, however, said most patients would not be affected by the changes, as they are already covered by government health insurance schemes.

The higher fees will take effect in two weeks for patients who are not covered by the three government healthcare schemes — the 30 baht universal healthcare scheme, the social security fund and the state officials’ scheme.

About 99% of Thais are members of one of the three schemes.

The health minister believes operators of private hospitals and health insurers will not increase their fees.

"Because [private hospitals] have always based their charges on the level of care provided, their fees have always reflected the real cost of treatment and they would therefore have no reason to increase fees," he said.

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