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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Private hospitals must test and treat Covid-19 patients free

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Patients should not be charged for Covid-19 treatment at any hospital. (via Thinkstock)

In an effort to increase Covid-19 testing and care, the National Health Security Office confirmed private hospitals should not be charging patients for Covid-19 treatment. Hospitals were instructed to consider Covid-19 infections as emergency patients, and in Thailand, hospitals are obligated to administer emergency services without charging patients, as the NHSO will reimburse costs.

Recently some private hospitals were criticised for allegedly turning away people and refusing to administer Covid-19 tests since it is mandatory to admit anyone who tests positive immediately. The hospital worried about having to take in and treat these patients without getting reimbursed for the cost of care.

In a video conference call attended by representatives from private hospitals all across Thailand yesterday, the secretary-general of the NHSO urged private hospitals not to attempt to charge any Covid-19 patients. Hospitals cited a variety of reasons that patients were previously being charged for that treatment.

They claim that misunderstandings were responsible for many of the complaints about payment for treatment. Confusion is also created when hospitals send bills to the patients as part of standard documentation, even when the NHSO is footing that bill. Many patients are confused and pay the bill when they shouldn’t.

But quite a few private hospitals complained that the reason that they had no choice but to charge Covid-19 patients was because of bureaucratic delays. They pointed to slow reimbursement for the cost of treatment from the NHSO making hospitals hesitant to test and treat for Covid-19, knowing they may not receive money for the treatment for extended periods of time.

In response, the secretary-general of the NHSO acknowledge the delay and shortened the reimbursement to a 15-day turnaround time. They asked for private hospitals to follow standardised pricing structures following the rates created by public health authorities. The secretary-general also said costs incurred above and beyond the NHSO’s list would be considered for reimbursement as well.

The private hospitals on the call were willing to follow these guidelines for Covid-19 treatment with the revised reimbursement plan, and the Department of Health Service Support director-general expressed thanks for the teamwork. He stated that anyone charged for Covid-19 treatment should get a refund, and encouraged patients with problems to attempt mediation or bring the case to court.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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