Coronavirus (Covid-19)Thailand

Health Minister urged to extend Covid treatment coverage to April

PHOTO: PR Pattaya

The government is being urged to reconsider its decision to end coverage for Covid-19 treatment under the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients scheme. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul had previously announced that Covid treatment would be excluded from the UCEP scheme from March 1. However, his deputy, Sathit Pitutecha, argues now is not the time, given that infections are on the rise.

On Saturday, Thailand reported 16,330 new infections and 25 deaths, the highest since August 29 last year, according to a Bangkok Post report. As a result, Sathit says he plans to ask Anutin to postpone the exclusion of Covid treatment from the UPEC scheme until April 1. The exclusion will mean that Covid-19 patients will no longer have their treatment covered under UCEP, unless they are critically ill. Currently, all Covid-19 treatment is covered by UCEP, allowing patients to receive free treatment at any hospital.

From the current date of March 1, only patients who are critically ill with a secondary infection as a result of Covid-19 will have their treatment covered. Patients who don’t fall into this category will have to use other welfare schemes, such as the universal health coverage scheme from the National Health Security Office or the Civil Servant Medical Benefit Scheme.

Opposition politicians are also calling on the government to reconsider the decision, arguing that the move will make it more difficult to contain the current outbreak. Theerarat Samretwanich from the Pheu Thai Party says the decision means Covid-19 patients will have access to medical treatment restricted and will only be able to receive treatment at the hospital where their insurance schemes are registered.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that Jadej Thammatacharee from the NHSO says it’s up to the Department of Health Service Support to decide on changes to the UCEP scheme. Jadej says options for free or subsidised Covid-19 treatment still remain available to patients, even if Covid-19 is removed from the UCEP scheme.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Maya Taylor

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