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Foreigners crying foul over the new dual pricing policy at Thai public hospitals

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Thailand’s expat community is reeling after the news of Thai public hospitals given the greenlight to charge foreigners higher rates for foreigners than the locals – a classic dual-pricing policy.

The new split rates kick in from September 29. But the health ministry say the new rates actually provide more set prices for services and procedures and, in some cases, charges may drop for some foreigners.

The unpopular Thai policy of dual pricing will now cover public hospital care, not just national parks, museums and amusement parks. Public hospitals in Thailand will now be able to legally charge foreign nationals higher rates for services under new regulations published last week.

There will now be four tiers of rates that can be charged for services based on the patient’s visa status in the Kingdom – Thai nationals, foreigners from neighbouring countries, working foreigners on non-immigrant visas, and tourists and retirees.

 

For example, an HIV test costs 160 baht if you’re Thai. It goes up to 240 baht for working expats and then to 320 baht for retirees and tourists.

Or, a spinal MRI examination will cost Thais 18,700 baht. That jumps to 23,375 baht for working expats and 28,050 baht for retirees and tourists.

But the costs, allowing greater charges for working foreigners and tourists, will still be a lot less than the charges at most Thai private hospitals. Private hospitals have been accused of price gouging their foreign patients for years and have recently come to the attention of consumer groups and the public health ministry for their overcharging for medications issued by their own dispensaries, from 30% more up to 300% in some reported cases.

Public hospitals now will have a more accurate base of costings for different levels of patients, something that has been arbitrary and ad hoc in the past.

Thais receive mostly free medical care through the Universal Healthcare Program administered by the Public Health Ministry.

 

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