Removal of Covid-19 from universal coverage scheme to be delayed indefinitely

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A controversial decision to remove Covid-19 from the treatments covered under the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients scheme is set to be delayed indefinitely. The delay comes as Covid infections continue to rise nationwide. According to a Bangkok Post report, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul confirmed the delay after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.

“The government and Public Health Ministry want to reassure the public that Covid-19 patients will be well looked after. With infections soaring, the ministry has to adjust and has decided to extend the UCEP coverage for Covid-19 patients further.”

The health minister says Covid patients will still be eligible to have their treatment covered under the scheme. Anutin insists the plan to remove Covid from the list of covered treatments was not a cost-saving exercise as there were no financial problems associated with UCEP. Instead, it was aimed at saving hospital beds for Covid patients with severe symptoms, as well as those with other illnesses.

However, the Bangkok Post reports that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed the health ministry to delay the removal of Covid-19 from the UCEP scheme and to gather public feedback before resubmitting a proposal to Cabinet.

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Under the scheme, Covid patients can receive treatment at any facility for 3 days, before being transferred to the hospital where their state welfare or insurance scheme is registered. However, coverage for Covid patients who do not experience severe symptoms was due to end on March 1, after which only critically ill patients would be covered.

As part of the proposal, Anutin had announced a new scheme called Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients Plus, which he said would cover emergency treatment for Covid patients with moderate to severe illness.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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