Panel set to OK price move

Panel set to OK price move

The Central Committee on Prices of Goods and Services is set to approve a proposal to require private hospitals to show the prices of medicine, medical supplies and medical service charges so consumers can be aware of them before deciding to use their services.

The proposal would also allow patients at private hospitals to buy medicines from drugstores using prescriptions given by their doctors.

A source from the Commerce Ministry who requested anonymity said the committee, chaired by the acting commerce minister, is scheduled to meet on May 10 to consider the proposal prepared by a subcommittee handling supervisory measures for medicines, medical supplies and medical services, chaired by commerce permanent secretary Boonyarit Kalayanamit.

The subcommittee, which includes representatives from the Office of Insurance Commission, the Commerce Ministry, the Thai Life Assurance Association, the Thai General Insurance Association, consumer protection organisations and private hospitals, also proposed that private hospitals should disclose and provide clear details of their medical service charges, as well as additional charges if hospitals detect other diseases later.

The hospitals should also separate medical charges from other additional charges such as room rates.

The source said that if the central committee approves the subcommittee's proposal, an official announcement will be issued and announced for enforcement.

Prices must be easily visible and understandable.

Those who do not comply with the requirement to show the prices will be subject to a fine of not more than 10,000 baht.

Regarding prescriptions, the private hospitals have to identify clearly the names of medicines, both trade and scientific names.

Those who fail to comply with the rule will face up to five years in jail or a fine of up to 100,000 baht or both.

On Jan 22, the cabinet approved the Commerce Ministry's proposal to put medical and healthcare expenses on the state price control list as part of efforts to deal with price-gouging amid growing concerns over the high cost of private medical care.

The proposal was endorsed by the Central Committee on Prices of Goods and Services in line with the 1999 Prices of Goods and Services Act.

According to a recent study chaired by Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, more than half of private hospitals overcharge for medicines and medical services.

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