Thailand’s soaring private healthcare costs to be ministry-controlled

Published:  27 Dec at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, USA, UK, Thailand, England
The soaring cost of treatment in Thailand’s private hospitals may soon be placed under government control.

The days of cheap heathcare in Thailand’s reputable private hospitals are well and truly over, as commercial interests continue to drive up charges for everything from medicines through consultations to treatment including operations. Once a hub for expat retirees and medical tourists, average charges in the country for common operations are now higher than their counterparts in Spain, although still cheaper than in the UK and USA. Overcharging for private healthcare is the norm nowadays and affects both Thai and expat communities.

The country is a popular destination for Western retirees, not all of whom have, can afford or are eligible by age for private healthcare insurance, and millions of baht are spent annually by expats who pay using their capital. For some time, concerns have been felt over the swingeing increases in private medical care costs, prompting the Commercy Ministry to order an investigation into the high charges. According to Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, the ministry will address the issue and, at the same time, the Thai Foundation for Consumers is urging regulatory controls over the cost to patients who opt for private treatment.

The minister has ordered relevant agencies to calculate a price ceiling for medical treatments and prescribed medicines, presenting it to him at a meeting to take place in January. Once he’s considered their recommendations, he will chair a meeting of the ministry’s Central Committee with the intention of putting medical costs on the controlled goods and services list. Sontirat told the media a change in the law may be necessary to ensure the controlled prices are adhered to by private medical facilities.

Although the development will be welcomed not only by expats but by the Thai community, the minister’s plan is intended to be short-term, with long-term solutions resting with the Ministry of Public Health. Agencies involved in the changes have already agreed medical treatment and medicines should be placed on a controlled goods list, with the Central Committee expected to meet on 9 January in order to form a sub-panel to set standard charges taking into account the cost differences and capital costs of individual private hospitals.
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