Thai private hospitals price-gouging expats on coronavirus tests

Published:  17 Mar at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, Thailand
Expats desperate to protect their Thai wives and families from the virus are being priced out of the market by greedy private hospitals.

Thailand’s network of private hospitals is being accused of profiteering due to its massive charges for coronavirus tests. Already infamous for their overcharging of tourists and expats living in the country, their gouging of prices for the essential tests is being seen as a total lack of regard for the safety of the Thais themselves as well as for the foreigners attempting to do the right thing by finding out whether they are spreading the virus. The situation is especially threatening for the older retired expats who make up the majority of Westerners living in the country.

One expat who’d returned from South Korea after the outbreak decided to self-quarantine just in case, as well as getting tested at a local private hospital. Two in his locality refused to test him whilst the third agreed to do so but quoted $750 as the going price. English language media reports reveal charges for the test at Bangkok Hospital, Bumrungrad Hospital and the Bangkok Nursing Home Hospital range between 18,000 baht and 22,000 baht, whilst an online advertisement for Bangkok Hospital quoted 25,000 baht.

Expats in the northern city of Chiang Mai are also being charged similar rates and are angry that they can’t protect themselves, their families and the Thai population at large should they unknowingly have the virus. Research suggests Thai public hospitals’ charges for the test range between 3,000 and 6,000 baht, but the facilities are forced by the junta government to charge foreigners twice the going rate for Thais. Both Thai nationals and the expat community are accusing the private facilities of price gouging on a massive scale as well as taking advantage of a possibly tragic situation to increase their profits.

However, the worst is yet to come, as those who’ve paid up and proved positive for the virus won’t be admitted to the private hospital and must accept a lesser quality of treatment at a government facility. One Thai specialist suggested the reason is that private hospitals are likely to lose profitable medical tourists should it be known coronavirus patients are being treated in the facility.

Given that testing for the virus has now been proven across the majority of infected world countries to reduce the chances of an even worse spread, the greed of Thai private hospitals may see the country’s infection rate soar along with its already devastating effect on the formerly popular tourist industry. Thai healthcare officials have had no success petitioning the government on issues such as visas and even guidelines for tourists – if any are still coming – and the reported number of those affected is continuing to rise.
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