Talks on tap for lowering health insurance premiums

Talks on tap for lowering health insurance premiums

Officials to sit down with OIC in January

The Internal Trade Department is scheduled to talk with the Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC) by the middle of next month about possibly lowering health insurance premiums in keeping with the cheaper medicine price structure.

Prayoth Benyasut, deputy director-general of the department, said that after trying to convince private hospitals to lower medicine costs, it's moving ahead with plans to talk with the insurance commissioner and insurers to cut health insurance premiums.

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

"The first focus of the study will be 100 popular medicines such as painkillers and antibiotics," he said. "The study has begun, comparing data of private hospitals."

The department set 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.

On Oct 15, the department listed 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 St 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 let people gauge whether they can afford the cost.

The names of private hospitals rated yellow or red have not been released.

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