Private hospital fees on cusp of public disclosure

Private hospital fees on cusp of public disclosure

A worker arranges equipment at a Bangkok hospital. Somchai Poomlard
A worker arranges equipment at a Bangkok hospital. Somchai Poomlard

The government is set to reveal information on the actual costs of 200 medical services early next year after it categorised private hospitals based on their medicine and medical service charges so patients can know the prices before they receive services.

Prayoth Benyasut, deputy director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said information on the costs of medical services such as blood tests, X-rays, MRIs and doctor fees will be available on the department's website and via QR code.

On Oct 15, the department unveiled 164 private hospitals rated green, meaning they offer what was determined as reasonable medicine pricing for patients, on the department's website.

A total of 354 private hospitals nationwide were assessed using three criteria: prices charged of up to 100% higher than the average retail price; prices 50% lower than the average price of similar items sold by private hospital peers; and no price complaints within the past year.

Private hospitals rated green included Saint Louis, Thonburi, Hua Chiew, Vichaiyuth, Bangkok Christian and Nawamin 9.

The department rates the hospitals in three categories: red (high prices), yellow (medium) and green (low).

Information on the grade of each private hospital will allow people to gauge whether they can afford the cost.

The names of private hospitals categorised as yellow and red have not been displayed.

Mr Prayoth said the department and its partner Chulalongkorn University are accelerating a study on the reference prices of medicines and medical supplies based on academic studies, transparency and fairness, allowing consumers to check prices before deciding to receive treatment at private hospitals.

The first focus of the study will be 100 popular medicines such as painkillers and antibiotics.

Mr Prayoth said the department is setting up a panel to offer emblems to green-rated hospitals to reward them and raise public awareness about hospitals' transparency and fairness in prices charged for medicines and medical supplies.

The move is expected to encourage hospitals that are rated red and yellow to make themselves more amenable to patients, he said.

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