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Phuket officials stick to their dual-pricing “covid test” guns

Tim Newton

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Following a few days of negative publicity over its dual-pricing policy for rapid Covid antigen test for passengers at the airport, or at Tha Chatchai checkpoint for people coming by road, you would have thought there’d been some “there’s been a misunderstanding” noises coming out of city hall.

But no.

In fact Phuket officials are doubling down on the controversy that sees foreigners charged 500 baht for the rapid test, even if they have a work permit and pay into the local health insurance, if they have to get a Covid test when they arrive.

(So far the ‘rapid test’ hasn’t proved so rapid with some passengers complaining that they are having to wait up to 90 minutes for their test results)

When people arrive on the island they either have to have a negative PCR test from the past 72 hours, proof of being fully vaccinated OR take a rapid antigen test. For Thais the charge for that test is nada, nothing, zero. For foreigners, all foreigners, the charge is 500 baht. Earlier the local government said that everyone would be charged 300 baht each. But some public servant had a ‘cunning plan’ and changed the policy to Thais – free, Foreigners – 500 baht just a day later.

Whilst comments on the internet huff and puff about boycotting the island and raging about the 2-tier pricing (it’s a popular clickbait topic by bloggers), officials merely said that people should just wait until May 1 when the policy will be lifted anyway. When the Phuket Governor announced the arrival procedures earlier this week he said that it would run for the rest of April.

Jatuphong Kaewsai from Phuket’s Provincial Hall fobbed off enquiries by confirming with Coconuts that not even tax-paying foreigners are exempt from the policy, and…

“If they want to travel to Phuket without having to face such a problem, they can come on May 1.”

He also reminded passengers that “travellers with proof of vaccination or a negative test result are exempt from testing”.

That’s all very well but, so far, there’s been a paucity of foreigners offered or scheduled for a Covid vaccination, even on Phuket where the roll out is well advanced compared to the rest of the country.

With the rising number of cases, particularly in Bangkok, a major feeder market for the island, and Phuket’s own rising infection load, it remains likely that the policy could be extended beyond the end of April.

Here’s a sample of some of the comments made on The Thaiger about the mater, not all condemning the policy…

Phuket officials stick to their dual-pricing "covid test" guns | News by ThaigerPhuket officials stick to their dual-pricing "covid test" guns | News by ThaigerPhuket officials stick to their dual-pricing "covid test" guns | News by ThaigerPhuket officials stick to their dual-pricing "covid test" guns | News by ThaigerPhuket officials stick to their dual-pricing "covid test" guns | News by ThaigerPhuket officials stick to their dual-pricing "covid test" guns | News by Thaiger

 

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Jesus64

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 9:49 am

    My kids are half Thai half Swiss. I guess 250.-?!

  2. Avatar

    Tppriv

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 10:15 am

    Well, I understand people’s feelings, but it has been always been a bit more expensive to live here as foreigner, so Baht 500 won‘t make us poorer. However the fact that it was us helping thousands of locals during last years lockdown phases with food, clothing etc. should make the authorities think, if this is a fair treatment to those that cared for the Phuket community without thinking „why should we care, we are foreigners“. Furthermore we cannot even buy a decent vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna, because the major private hospital groups are still not allowed to procure their own vaccines. Many of us would gladly pay, which means no burden at all to the government or the people of Thailand. Actually that would mean one problem less for the government to think about. But the Thai official vaccine procurement policy seems to have other income aspects in mind. Anyway We foreigners are many here and with our money we have kept quite many small Thai businesses alive since more than one year. Yet taking without giving has become the common practice of the authorities, which contradicts also the buddhist belief, but let‘s not forget, we are still able to live in a little paradise compared to the rest of the world.

  3. Avatar

    Slugger

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Deluded ‘we help the locale economy’ foreigners should shut up and pay this massive 12 quid without demur. Either that or go home where their savings will be quickly depleted.

  4. Avatar

    labengin

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    So slugger are you Thai? do you support all racist policies?I will not donate to any Thai organization or charity again, I need the money to pay for dual pricing

  5. Avatar

    Steve

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    @Slugger – are you related to Ij! You sound like Lord Haw Haw.

  6. Avatar

    Stardust

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    @Slugger all the key industries ir automotive industry/ suppliers are foreign companies and pay taxes and sallaries. Just around Bangkok are 2000 German companies and not small ones like Bosch, Siemens, BMW, Haegele, Grimm etc etc. So we should notice your fascist and racists coments and sure we brought up the economy in Thailand and all key industries in Thailand the last 50 years (by the way sky train is by Siemens too). So if the Foreign Companies go there would be nothing left or operational. But it shows how low level life and mindset guys like sluggers have. And no education you had otherwise you would not make such stupid coments all the time and zero knowledge about the Thai economy. There is no car produced without out foreigners in Thailand they are all Farang or Japan for example and all tech key companies are all foreogbers. You are a ignorant racist on the lowest level and stupid like hell!

  7. Avatar

    J West

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    @labengin – I’m sure many agree with you. The HiSo that have accumulated wealth from tourism seem immune to the plight of millions of unemployed. Foreign residents, spending much more than Thai tourists , has been a major driver in most markets.

    If HiSo Thai want Phuket to die….that’s their affair, let them answer to the consequence. I’m not being hurt by the snickering barrage of insults, but many Thai are affected by our absence. One HiSo on holiday on a vacant island doesn’t replace the thousands of high paid “ farang”.

  8. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    “… so far, there’s been a paucity of foreigners offered or scheduled for a Covid vaccination”

    JUST AS THERE HAS BEEN FOR THAIS!!!!!

    First you complain because farangs have to pay 500 baht for a Covid test, which is a far simpler solution than checking if farangs have a work permit or not, charging foreign spouses and children but not work permit holders holders, etc, now you’re complaining because farangs aren’t being treated as special!

  9. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    “Furthermore we cannot even buy a decent vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna, because the major private hospital groups are still not allowed to procure their own vaccines. Many of us would gladly pay, which means no burden at all to the government or the people of Thailand.”

    NOR CAN THAIS!!!!!

  10. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    So farangs are going to boycott countries with dual pricing policies?

    So Richard Barrow and his fellow Brits are protesting about the UK’s NHS surcharge for foreigners (27,000 baht per year, not 500 baht) even if they’re tax payers, etc, etc, but not permanent residents are they?

    … and you’re doing the same about Australia and Medicare charges for those who aren’t Australian citizens if they’re not in the right category are you, Tim?

    … or is it just Thailand?

  11. Avatar

    Duncan

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    @Tppriv – you’re missing the point – the vaccines are being provided using social security funds, a fund which anyone who is working here pays into and is meant to provide the same treatment irrespective of race or nationality.

    Phuket is a shitty place and apparently they’re doing it hard because of COVID – I hope it stays that way given the racist BS like this. Karma.

  12. Avatar

    AC

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    Amazing Thailand, this is an official scam against dirty farang and Slugger shows us his limited,scarcity and racist mentality. You don’t like us we won’t come.

  13. Avatar

    Stardust

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    @slugger@Simon Small…by the way how many tax and salkaries you pay in Thailand compare to all the Farang Companies in Thailand to have a big mouth? What did you ever for Thailand and the economy? How many handouts you made or donations to help the Thaipeople who lost their incomes through the pandemic? You 2 are really low level and did nothing compare to many Farangs who have family, companies in Thailand or helped in difficult times with donations and hand outs.

  14. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    “What did you ever for Thailand and the economy? How many handouts you made or donations to help the Thaipeople who lost their incomes through the pandemic?”

    More than some, less than others, @Stardust.

    However much or little, it doesn’t change the sheer hypocrisy of those accusing Thailand and Thais of dual-pricing and profiteering when their own countries’ health coverage openly and unashamedly charge foreigners more than their own citizens.

    Even overlooking the NHS annual surcharge for foreigners working and paying taxes in the UK, if an English visitor goes to a Thai government hospital he pays exactly the same as a Thai with no coverage (no SS, no yellow card, etc).

    If a Thai visitor does the same thing in England he’s charged 150% – a 50% surcharge over the NHS cost.

    I don’t see Richard Barrow et al complaining about that, but they’re the first to bleat about paying 500 baht as a one-off.

  15. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    It is a false economy for Phuket.
    Suppose a ferang family of four were going to spend the weekend on Phuket.
    They do not see why they have to pay B500 each when the Thais do not.
    They do not come.
    Phuket loses, say B30.000 not spent by this family on hotel rooms, food, entertainment, and transport.
    All because the greedy Thais wanted B2000. Plus, this may sour this family from ever coming again.

  16. Avatar

    Colin G

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    @Simon Small – I believe you are Issan John re-born and I claim the THB 500 finder’s fee….

  17. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    Wrong. Small Simon.
    Anyone form anywhere in the world can walk into an accident and emergency NHS hospital in the UK and receive free treatment, without being British.

  18. Avatar

    John Landy

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    @Jesus64 – if they have half-passports, yep

  19. Avatar

    Ray

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    I have come across double standards numerous times all over SE Asia and got used to it. Still, I have a hard time accepting this attitude for medical treatment.

    If you live illegally as a Thai in the Netherlands and you need urgent medical assistance, any hospital will help you. Whether it is sewing up a cut or heart surgery. They look at your financial means whether you will be be billed or not. I know an Indonesian family staying here illegally and they never had to pay for it. The hospital will not inform the police about your status. If you are legally in the country, you need to have basic insurance (you can pay a little extra for more coverage). There is a cap of 385 euro’s each year, which you need to pay at your own expense. Everything thereafter is covered. When you have less than average income you will be compensated by the government for the monthly insurance costs.

  20. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    “Wrong. Small Simon.
    Anyone form anywhere in the world can walk into an accident and emergency NHS hospital in the UK and receive free treatment, without being British.”

    Hardly “wrong”, @andrew tobys.

    While correct they can ONLY get A & E treatment.

    Anything beyond that, including if you’re admitted for treatment, need treatment outside the A & E department, or need treatment that doesn’t count as “A & E”, is billed at 150% in England unless you’re resident in the UK or have paid the NHS surcharge for foreigners if you’re working.

    The rules are very and unashamedly clear.

  21. Avatar

    Geoff

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 3:45 pm

    Rascists? Fascists? What a joke. Spare me the keyboard soapbox comments. 500bt? Peanuts and I’m not concerned about paying if it gets me what I want and go where I want. I gave up visiting tourists parks etc. years ago. You’re a bunch of charlatans with your phoney arguments.

  22. Avatar

    Das

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 4:10 pm

    Originally: Thai person test = 300B, dirty falang test = 300B.

    Now Thai authorities pay for Thai person test, so it’s free.

    But dirty falang test is now 500B, +200B.

    Conclusion: Thai authorities only pay 100B towards Thai person test and dirty falang pay 200B for Thai person test and 300B for their own.

    This is the price we pay for living in the LOS (but only when your wallet’s open).

  23. Avatar

    Jason

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    That’s a crack up! Love it!! But it does rely on one thing…enough farangs to make it work! People from where I come from (Farang Land) are watching this situation….

  24. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    “… you’re missing the point – the vaccines are being provided using social security funds …”

    No they’re not, @Duncan!

    Vaccines, for everyone here as has been announced repeatedly and officially several times, are being paid for by the government out of voted for central funds.

  25. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    “People from where I come from (Farang Land) are watching this situation”

    TBH, so what?

    Do many farangs “watching this situation” even know which day of the week it is given the number commenting here who’ve said they’ll go to Vietnam / Cambodia / Bali / etc instead thinking they were open to tourists / not quarantining those testing positive / etc when they were doing exactly the same as Thailand?

    … and given the falling numbers coming from the West and the increasing numbers from the East, and that those from the East spend considerably more per head / per holiday / per day than those from the East, why should Thais make whingeing farangs a priority when they’re not bringing in the tourist $ any more?

  26. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    @Simon Small – It is very hard taking you seriously.
    About the NHS charging foreigners 50 percent more at the NHS. I point out the A & E is free for foreigners, and I write you are wrong.
    You state hardly wrong, then next state: While correct they can ONLY get A and RE treatment.
    Make up you mind.
    Even so a Thai could hop into an A & E in the UK with a broken leg and be treated free.
    How much would that cost for a ferang in Thailand?
    Answer in 2017, starts at $6000.
    Bupa in the UK would charge but only £1900, but that is because they are private hospitals.

  27. Avatar

    Gosport

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 6:22 pm

    Money talks. If you don’t like it, leave it. If you feel insulted show your three fingers.

  28. Avatar

    Robert Elliot

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    500 Baht No big deal. Maybe the foreigners can claim it back from there insurance company. I wouldnt expect the Thai government to pay for my test.

  29. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    @toby andrews, it’s difficult without drawing pictures for you but I’ll try to put it as simply as possible and keep it on the subject of dual pricing.

    UK residents are entitled to full NHS health care, even if they pay no tax. Foreigners who are working and pay tax in the UK have to pay an NHS surcharge every year as well as tax and Nat Ins – currently around 27,000 baht, less for children and students. The surcharge is payable in advance – a one year visa is a one year surcharge, a five year visa a five year surcharge / 135,000 baht, etc.

    You may disagree, but most rational people would see that as dual pricing, penalising foreigners.

    Foreigners and non-UK residents who are not entitled to NHS treatment are charged 150% of the cost price by NHS England (and Wales, but 100% by Scotland and NI), apart from A & E treatment.

    You may disagree, but most rational people would see charging 150% as profiteering at the expense of foreigners and non-UK residents.

    Anyone going to a government hospital in Thailand, regardless of the department (A & E, maternity, whatever), Thai or farang, pays the same price unless covered by SS, yellow card, etc. Extras such as VIP rooms are the same price for everyone. Residency and nationality are irrelevant.

    You may disagree, but most rational people would see that as equal treatment.

    Anyone going to one of the UK’s remaining A & E departments (now down to some 150) who is treated in A & E is treated free as long as they’re not admitted to the hospital or treated by any other department.

    Most people, apparently including you, would also see that as equal treatment.

    If you want to discuss the different prices charged in Thai and UK government hospitals for various injuries knock yourself out, but as it’s got nothing to do with dual pricing I’m not interested apart from pointing out the obvious – a simple fracture that would be treated in A & E in the UK, without being admitted or needing any follow up treatment, a fracture clinic, etc, wouldn’t “start at $6,000” (180,000+ baht) in a government hospital in Thailand but would be closer to one percent of that.

  30. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 9:51 pm

    @Simon Small –
    You write it, but still will not accept it.
    You write: Anyone – is treated free in A & E, yet you keep reverting to Thais pay 150 percent of cost for treatment on the NHS.
    Examples with sources please Isaan John.
    If a ferang went to an A & E department in a Thai hospital they would PAY!!! You know it.
    What does a broken leg cost to fix in a Thai hospital? NOT a fracture, but a broken leg??????
    It would not be 1 percent of B6000 would it? Don’t waffle. Don’t lie.

  31. Avatar

    EDDY

    Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 12:05 am

    @Slugger – Shame on you Thailand for this double price system for foreigners

  32. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 12:19 am

    “You write: Anyone – is treated free in A & E, yet you keep reverting to Thais pay 150 percent of cost for treatment on the NHS.”

    No, @toby andrews, I wrote:

    “Foreigners and non-UK residents who are not entitled to NHS treatment are charged 150% of the cost price by NHS England (and Wales, but 100% by Scotland and NI), apart from A & E treatment.”

    Sorry, I don’t know how to make that any clearer or put it any simpler or what part you can’t understand.

    The “source” is the NHS – do a google for “NHS UK charges for foreigners” or anything similar.

    “If a ferang went to an A & E department in a Thai hospital they would PAY!!! You know it.”

    No, I know they wouldn’t necessarily pay at all.

    That’s completely untrue. If a farang had SS coverage, for example, paying tax and working, they’d pay exactly the same as Thais with SS coverage – nothing.

    If they had no coverage then they’d pay, exactly the same as a Thai with no coverage, at exactly the same rate.

    I don’t know what part of “Anyone going to a government hospital in Thailand, regardless of the department (A & E, maternity, whatever), Thai or farang, pays the same price unless covered by SS, yellow card, etc. Extras such as VIP rooms are the same price for everyone. Residency and nationality are irrelevant.” you disagree with or can’t understand.

    “What does a broken leg cost to fix in a Thai hospital? NOT a fracture, but a broken leg??????”

    Impossible to say, but a “broken leg” is a “fracture.

    Green stick, compound, open, closed, comminuted, stable?

    Spiral, stress, impacted?

    Femur, tibia, fibula?

    etc, etc, etc.

    “It would not be 1 percent of B6000 would it? Don’t waffle. Don’t lie.”

    No, it wouldn’t be 60 baht, although it could be free if covered by SS, or 30 baht or free with a yellow card, or rather more with nothing depending on the break. It certainly doesn’t “start at $6,000” (180,000 plus baht), though, which was what you claimed.

  33. Avatar

    Wayno

    Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 2:54 am

    Phuket is a total dump, only brain dead fools with no common sense go there .
    RIP Phuket

  34. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 11:32 am

    @Simon Small – “it would be free if covered by an SS card, or yellow card.” What the hell are they?
    Otherwise B6000 to fix a broken leg right?”
    If Thai hospitals give free treatment to ferangs in other cases, why do ferangs bother to have insurance?
    They have insurance so that they do not pay B6000 for a broken leg.
    I know of a tourist that went into hospital with an infection in his foot, and they charged his insurance B8000 a day, and all he had was drugs.
    There are many reasons for a foreigner to receive free UK health care in the UK. Few in Thailand.

  35. Avatar

    John

    Monday, April 26, 2021 at 9:58 am

    I find it difficult to understand some of above comments.

    Every country on the planet discriminates on the basis of citizenship/permanent residency.

    If you not a citizen or permanent resident of a country you don’t have the entitlement to benefits as citizens and permanent residents.

    I just don’t understand why people get upset about 500 baht when obviously, Thai citizens / permanent residents can enter and stay in Thailand without a visa.

    Why do people confuse / conflate discrimination on the basis of citizenship with racism?

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 41 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented over 10,000 radio news bulletins, 3,900 in Thailand alone, hosted 650 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. As founder of The Thaiger, Tim now acts as the Content Manager and head-writer, whilst supervising the growth of the YouTube channel. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand.

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