Cabinet approves price control at hospitals

Cabinet approves price control at hospitals

President Dr Pongpat Pathanwanit (right) and Dr Paiboon Eksaengsi, secretary-general of the Private Hospital Association, voice their disagreement to price control at private hospitals in Bangkok last week. The cabinet on Tuesday approved price control on medicines and medical services and supplies. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
President Dr Pongpat Pathanwanit (right) and Dr Paiboon Eksaengsi, secretary-general of the Private Hospital Association, voice their disagreement to price control at private hospitals in Bangkok last week. The cabinet on Tuesday approved price control on medicines and medical services and supplies. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Prices of drugs, medical supplies and medical services will soon be overseen by a joint panel after the cabinet approved adding them to the price control list on Tuesday.

Unlike other goods, the addition of these products to the list does not mean their prices would be capped, Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said after the cabinet meeting.   

“Medical care is quite different from other products and services whose prices can be fixed,” he explained.

Instead, a sub-committee will be set up to work out fair measures for all stakeholders, including people who may have to use the services at private hospitals from time to time, he said.

The panel will consist of representatives from the government — Commerce and Public Health ministries — insurers, private hospitals, consumers’ groups and the National Health Security Office, operator of universal health care programme, he added.

“Please don’t think the government is trying to cap the prices of medical services. Of some 50 goods items currently under the list, only sugar sees its price capped. The prices of other products are based on their real costs,” he said.  

The Commerce Ministry earlier proposed the addition after receiving numerous complaints from the public about the high prices.

The cabinet meeting on Tuesday did not lay down any special policy on the issue but wanted the sub-committee to introduce appropriate measures including price displays on websites, he said.

The measures would be proposed to a central committee on product and service prices in the near future, the commerce minister said.

Recently the management of private hospitals expressed disagreement on the price control initiative, saying they deserved the right to set their own prices because they had invested in the hospitals.

Hospital and healthcare stocks were not affected by the news. The Health Care Services sector index (HELTH) of the Stock Exchange of Thailand jumped 3.9% at 4.32pm.  


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