Expats and locals welcome new laws over price gouging at private Thai hospitals

Published:  21 Jun at 6 PM
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Tagged: Thailand
Thailand’s private hospital sector is now being briefed on public notification of all prices after years of complaints over price gouging.

Seen as a scandal for a good few years by expats and locals alike, price gouging on everything from drugs through diagnostics to medical services including operations seems to have been common practice throughout the country’s 353 private hospitals. When the sound of whistle-blowing became too noisy to ignore, the junta government was forced to take action, much to the relief of the private facilities’ patients. Clear legal measures are now in place, enforcing transparency and controlling prices across the board.

Examples of blatant price gouging given in the English language online media included one bill of 23 million baht (£589,744) and a 30,000 baht (£770) charge for a diarrhoea diagnosis and medication. Other facilities have been reported as marking up drug prices by as much as 16,000 percent. In order to persuade private hospitals to stop the practice, penalties include a fine of 140,000 baht and a seven year prison sentence. The new rules cover not just private hospitals, but also companies manufacturing medical supplies, distributors, importers and exporters, all of whom must now show purchasing and sales prices for some 3,893 products including drugs and medical supplies.

In addition, all prescriptions must now show both the trade and generic names of the drugs provided, along with dosages and timing instructions. Bills must now show the per-unit cost of all prescribed medications. Prices must be shown on private hospital websites and, although maximum allowable prices of drugs and treatments haven’t yet been imposed by the government, legal enforcement may well follow if private hospitals are found to still be overcharging. All patients must be given an estimate of charges for necessary procedures and medicines, thus allowing them to decide in advance whether to proceed.
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