Thirteen out of 87 hospitals that are the main contractors of the Social Security Office (SSO) are struggling to refer patients with severe and chronic illnesses to bigger hospitals because of the slow clearance of treatment payments.
Chanat Chantaracharoen, director of the Medical Service System Management Bureau of the SSO, revealed the problem of the terminated referral of patients.
He said that it happened to some private hospitals that were the main contractors of the SSO because other hospitals with higher capacities did not extend their contracts with the main contractor hospitals. They did not renew the contracts because they did not receive payments for the treatment of referred patients. The SSO categorises the contracted hospitals with higher capacities as "supra contractors".
Mr Chanat said the better hospitals do not extend their deals with main contractor hospitals partly because the private hospitals that are main contractors delay payment for the treatment of their referred patients who are the members of the Social Security Fund. The delay results in a financial burden for supra contractor hospitals.
The SSO received complaints from supra contractor hospitals and in some cases solved the problem by transferring financial support for the main contractor hospitals with default directly to concerned supra contractor hospitals.
Another cause of delayed payments rests with the SSO. Mr Chanat said that SSO officials had to verify many documents about expenses for the treatment of patients and the process was slow because those documents were poorly prepared.
If relevant documents are better prepared, disbursement can be faster, he noted.
Mr Chanat said that the SSO was contacting the concerned parties to solve the problem and guarantee continuous medical treatment for the ill members of the Social Security Fund.
He plans to have discussions with concerned parties to create understanding on treatment expenses and the disbursement process to cover the medical treatment of patients with severe and chronic diseases.
Mr Chanat expects cooperation from the concerned parties.
The SSO allocates about 25 billion baht annually for the medical treatment of Social Security Fund members. The sum includes 4.46 billion baht for the treatment of severe diseases.
Supra contractor hospitals comprise hospitals under the jurisdiction of the Public Health Ministry, hospitals under the jurisdiction of the armed forces, university hospitals and private hospitals.
A source from a group of private hospitals that are the main contractors of the SSO said that the main contractor hospitals that lost their supra contractor hospitals had no idea where they could refer their seriously ill patients.
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- Writer: Penchan Charoensuthipan