Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said a new regulation provides benefits for any persons suffering from critical conditions to seek immediate medical treatments within 72 hours and without paying for the costs.
The new regulation, approved by Cabinet on March 28 and effective now, requires all hospitals to accept all emergency patients with critical conditions, and to charge the treatment cost from the related health security funds with which patients hold the benefit.
The Private Hospital Association Thailand President Pongpat Patanavanich has said the new regulation will help make the process more clear to hospitals where the rules on to whom the treatment cost should be billed previously didn’t exist.
Government Spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) was put in effect starting from last Saturday (Apr 1), allowing patients undergoing emergency treatments at any nearby hospital without payment for the treatment costs during the first 72 hours.
The practice will adhere to the Ministry of Public Health’s regulations and protocol for emergency treatment costs. All hospitals in Thailand are obliged to follow the protocol.
“The Prime Minister gave a high priority on this project as it is a basic right of all citizens which will help reduce social inequalities, stressing all hospitals to study and obey the regulations, adding that the government is working to reduce the number of road accidents, especially during important festivals, and making sure all injured persons will receive best care,” the government spokesman said.
Conditions which qualify patients for the UCEP benefits are listed in six groups, namely consciousness with no breathing; fast breathing, panting, and breathing difficulties; loss of body temperature with sweat and with possible seizure; acute chest pain; weakness of limbs on one side of the body, sudden loss of verbal capabilities, and continuous seizure; other symptoms affecting the respiratory system, the circulatory system, and the brain which may affect the patient’s life.
Notification of emergency cases are encouraged to be made by calling the 1669 hotline to receive correct initial screening if the case qualify for UCEP.
Hospitals must provide their best practice to help the patient without billing the medical cost to patient in the first 72 hours, but to instead bill to the insurance or security funds with which the patient hold benefits, such as the National Health Security, the Social Security, and the Comptroller General’s Department.
The list of medical costs billed must comply with the government approved rate, such as B2,400 per hour for the use of big operation theatre, B1,150 for one ultrasound check, B8,000 for one brain MRI scan, B29,000 as a cost of a mechanical valve, and B80,000 as a cost for a set of ECMO use and tubes.
After 72 hours from admission of critical patients, hospitals may refer the patient to the hospital at which the patient is registered to receive treatment benefits. Patients are required to cover for their own expenses if they wish to continue receiving treatment at the hospital they are initially admitted.
More information regarding the new UCEP scheme is available by calling the emergency patients coordination and rights protection centre 028 721 669, or the National Health Security Office hotline 1330.
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