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Medical price control plan looms over private hospitals


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Medical price control plan looms over private hospitals

By CHULARAT SAENGPASSA 
THE NATION 

 

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SHARE PRICES TAKE A HIT AS MEASURE GOES TO CABINET WHILE CONSUMERS BREATHE SIGH OF RELIEF
 

A CABINET meeting on January 22 will consider a plan to control the prices of medical supplies and services.

 

The proposed move could have a far-reaching impact on the country’s healthcare sector. While the news has brought joy to consumers, the share prices of private hospitals dived yesterday. On Wednesday, the Committee on Product and Service Prices passed a resolution to control the prices of medical supplies and services. 

 

“At present, we have only controlled the prices of medicines,” Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said about the committee’s latest decision.

 

The committee made the plan after complaints from various non-governmental organisations about what they perceive as overcharging by some private hospitals. 

 

“There are many complaints about medical-service fees. In one extreme case, the bill exceeded Bt23 million. A surgeon, for example, charges about Bt170,000 per operation,” Foundation for Consumers secretary-general Saree Ongsomwang said. 

 

Akom Pradittasuwan, who heads the Bureau of Sanatofium and Healing Arts, admitted that most complaints filed against private hospitals related to high fees. 

 

Last November, some consumer protection networks even threatened to sue the Commerce Ministry in the Administrative Court if it continued to ignore their call for controls on the prices of medical supplies and services.

 

Preeyanan Lorsermwattana, who heads the Network of Medical Malpractice Victims, yesterday welcomed the committee’s decision and demanded concrete results.

 

“I believe to ensure the controls apply in practice, a committee should be set up to monitor implementation too,” she said. 

 

She suggested that the panel should serve as a central agency for handling complaints about perceived overcharging. 

 

“Consumers usually give up after they are required to contact various agencies such as the Office of Consumer Protection Board, the Food and Drug Administration, the Internal Trade Department, the Health Service Support Department and the Medical Council. The process is also time-consuming,” Preeyanan said. 

 

She said once a central panel was in place, it would get many complaints and it could see the overall picture.

 

“Then, it should be able to provide practical solutions,” she said.

 

Preeyanan pointed out that sometimes items listed on medical bills used technical terms and were in English, making it hard for many consumers to understand.

 

“That’s why we need an authority to help,” she said.

 

Preeyanan added that authorities should also make clear how to punish those who do not comply with the controls. 

 

At present, her network has already gathered more than 50,000 signatures to propose a bill on auditing medical-service fees. 

 

Dr Aurchat Kanjanapitak, a former president of the Private Hospital Association, said he does not agree with the resolution on controlling the prices of medical services at private facilities, as their patients had the choice of seeking free treatment.

 

“All Thais are entitled to free medical treatment in one of the country’s major healthcare schemes such as the universal healthcare scheme,” he said.

 

He added that in life-threatening emergency cases, they could also get free treatment for 72 hours at any medical facility in the country. He said in such a situation, it was clear that patients were going to a private hospital voluntarily, possibly because they liked the services there. 

 

“Private hospitals offer alternatives to people,” he said. 

 

According to him, people make about 250 million medical visits to private hospitals each year.

 

Aurchart said he would fully support price controls if there were no free-treatment options for Thais. 

 

“Given that services by private hospitals are now an alternative service, we should focus on improving such alternatives. Do not make any move that will only destroy people’s choices,” he said. 

 

He pointed out that private hospitals needed profits to stay afloat and improve services in line with the principle of free enterprise.

 

Aurchart denied that private hospitals were becoming too profitable, pointing out that medical services providers listed on the stock market had an average profit rate of between 9 and 12 per cent only. 

 

“Those outside the market have a lower profit rate,” he said.

 

According to him, medical service fees are usually higher when patients seek higher quality options. 

 

Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said relevant parties should have discussions on the control-price plan. 

 

“We understand that each hospital has different costs and expenses,” he said. 

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30362020

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2019-01-11
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Excessive greed should not be allowed to prevail in healthcare. Look how messed up the American system is because of that. Salaries in the $10m's for company executives. 

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Bangkok Hospital is not going to like this!

 

Great place but they add 2000 baht worth of unnecessary medication for a sore throat!

 

but still only a fraction of what it would cost in the USA and really beautiful nurses in Hua Hin. They can take my blood all day. :cheesy:  

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1 hour ago, webfact said:

complaints from various non-governmental organisations about what they perceive as overcharging by some private hospitals. 

look to the insurance companies as complicit, same as in the usa

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The Public Health Ministry tried to limit prices charged for drugs and oblige hospitals to allow patients to get prescriptions filled at outside pharmacies more than 10 years ago. But the hospitals lobbied and managed to thwart the attempt with excuses such as the external pharmacies are not prepared and don’t have enough trained staff.

 

Hopefully now that they are going for fees too they will succeed this time. The private hospitals will otherwise kill the golden goose by pitching prices at  patients from the Gulf states whose governments pay the bills as they don’t have enough hospitals. I have been to meetings with well known listed hospitals where they boasted to fund managers that they can always increase prices more than inflation and that they will always be able to prevent the government from controlling their prices. One of the arguments they raised was, since every medical procedure is slightly different, no one will ever succeed in imposing standardized fees. Their share prices just went up and up for years based on this rational. Time to face reality or just another slight hiccup on the way up?

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5 hours ago, NCC1701A said:

Bangkok Hospital is not going to like this!

 

Great place but they add 2000 baht worth of unnecessary medication for a sore throat!

 

but still only a fraction of what it would cost in the USA and really beautiful nurses in Hua Hin. They can take my blood all day. :cheesy:  

Dont you mean they can suck your blood?

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25 minutes ago, ChipButty said:

Stop the double pricing would be a good idea

Admittedly I only skimmed through the OP, but my 'take away' was that they are only concerned about the amount private hospitals charge Thais - not foreigners?

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5 minutes ago, dick dasterdly said:

Admittedly I only skimmed through the OP, but my 'take away' was that they are only concerned about the amount private hospitals charge Thais - not foreigners?

You might be right

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I am very happy with the Thai medical system. The nurses look great in their white starched uniforms. You have just got to be careful on the medicines, that is get the list and take it to a local chemist to dispense or check Mins.

 

The medical lobby is one of the strongest groups in any country. They want their egos creased. 

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56 minutes ago, petermik said:

Will not happen...too many pigs dipping into the trough here unfortunately....excuses will be made as to why it,s not possible :sorry:

They have been rehearsing and refining the excuses for many years and probably will be able to deflect this again. The bureaucrats at the ministry don’t really have much incentive to fight this because they take care of themselves and their families with their own gold standard civil service healthcare scheme.

 

One of the serious effects is that middle class Thais are being priced out of insurance/private healthcare by gouging which puts more strain on government hospitals and social security hospitals, leaving nothing but scraps for the poor. Ultimately this rebounds on the rich and overall economic well being because a workforce whose health and that of their families is not taken care of is less productive. Meanwhile, if middle class Thais face bankruptcy due to medical emergencies, they have to save more and have less money to put into the consumer economy. 

 

Affordable private healthcare/ medical  insurance and adequate public healthcare is actually a win win for all, except for the gougers and the people they pay off. As well as price controls for private hospitals, an essential first step would be to merge the three government healthcare schemes. Then bureaucrats will be motivated to fight for healthcare reform.

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If they keep it up, eventually they will regulate healthcare here and imitate what's happening in Canada and previously under obama, the U.S. with waiting lines for six months to get your tonsils out. Nothing is free. Healthcare isn't about fees and cost, it's about IMPROVING health, which clearly isn't happening in the western world or Asia. Cancer is UP, diabetes is rampant, heart disease still #1 killer. Until the effort is on NUTRITION and lifestyle instead of prescribing medications (that DON'T cure), nothing will change. The ancients knew thousands of years ago; "let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food"!

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the only way to safe this and many other countries from "healthcare" bankrupting countries
is PREVENTION and EDUCATION about what you put in your mouth will effect your health

crappy junk food, pills, specially TYLENOL / PARACETAMOL is one of the most dangerous drugs
and here in Thailand :   ANTIBIOTICS for nothing & everything ...

people feeling beter after 2 days & stopping = making them resistant to antibiotics

 

did we not read recently that that elite government workers benefits of 5-10% of people with benefits took half of the costs of healthcare... nothing wrong with that picture ?

 

and that many were abusing the system, milking it to sell those drugs and make 20-30.000 baht on the side with that...

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2 hours ago, dickjones2018 said:

the only way to safe this and many other countries from "healthcare" bankrupting countries
is PREVENTION and EDUCATION about what you put in your mouth will effect your health

crappy junk food, pills, specially TYLENOL / PARACETAMOL is one of the most dangerous drugs
and here in Thailand :   ANTIBIOTICS for nothing & everything ...

people feeling beter after 2 days & stopping = making them resistant to antibiotics

 

did we not read recently that that elite government workers benefits of 5-10% of people with benefits took half of the costs of healthcare... nothing wrong with that picture ?

 

and that many were abusing the system, milking it to sell those drugs and make 20-30.000 baht on the side with that...

Amen brother. That was a mouthful of TRUTH. Cheers.

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A couple of years ago when my family was visiting my dad had to go to the hospital.  We took him to Bangkok hospital on Koh Samui.  They charged him 5,000 baht to see an internist.  A few days later when visiting my home in Ratchaburi we took him to Bangkok hospital there.  It only cost 500 baht to see an internist there.  So there can be large differences in cost based on the area.

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19 hours ago, pegman said:

Excessive greed should not be allowed to prevail in healthcare. Look how messed up the American system is because of that. Salaries in the $10m's for company executives. 

19 hours ago, Puchaiyank said:

Good for Thailand if they can figure out how to control healthcare costs.   One trip to the hospital in US can lead to bankruptcy... System there is out of control. 

And one very big reason for the US system being so out of control is precisely the government getting involved in healthcare (the other being the absurd litigation problem).

 

The quote above:

19 hours ago, webfact said:

Dr Aurchat Kanjanapitak, a former president of the Private Hospital Association, said he does not agree with the resolution on controlling the prices of medical services at private facilities, as their patients had the choice of seeking free treatment.

Is exactly right. If I can get free health care, I could avoid the expensive hospitals, meaning only those who can afford to be ripped off will get ripped off. This provides a natural balance, since if the private hospitals get too greedy, they will lose enough business to the free hospitals that they will collapse.

 

Instead, put the government controls in place, and these private hospitals will be forced to counter with bizarre pricing schemes (for instance, a single Tylenol pill costing $100 in the US), substandard care, shortcuts in safety, etc.

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Perhaps insurance premiums will also stop climbing due to “medical inflation”

 

i have to say.  Price of surgery in Thailand in a private hospital is now same if not more than a private in Oz. 

 

I will say though , rooms, beds and care much better here than in Oz but still does not really justify same price

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