Private hospitals urge state to cover costs

Private hospitals urge state to cover costs

The atmosphere at MedPark Hospital, a new hospital located on Rama IV Road. Pornprom Satrabhaya
The atmosphere at MedPark Hospital, a new hospital located on Rama IV Road. Pornprom Satrabhaya

Private hospitals are suggesting that the government increase coverage of medical expenses for Covid-19 inpatients in private hospitals to let more facilities in the capital help ease the public health burden.

Pongpat Patanavanich, vice-chairman and managing director of TPP Healthcare International Co, the owner of MedPark Hospital, said the problem that private hospitals face currently is costly medical expenses, which are too high for patients on a limited budget.

The average cost of Covid-19 treatment can reach over 200,000 baht over 14 days for patients with yellow tags or those in a stable condition requiring observation. The cost is even more for patients in intensive care units (ICU).

He said around 60% of hospital beds in Bangkok are in private hospitals.

At present, each hospital receives a subsidy per head from the government of 30-50% of the actual cost.

"That budget might be reasonable for medical services in public hospitals but is not practical for private hospitals because we have high costs such as salaries of medical personnel. Public hospitals don't include this cost as their staff have their salary paid by the Comptroller General's Department," Mr Pongpat said.

He said more private hospitals can help care for Covid-19 patients if the government can share the cost, which should be around 80% of actual medical expenses. This is more reasonable for treatment in private hospitals.

"There are no private hospitals that can make a profit of more than 10-12%. If the government can allocate an emergency fund as authorised in Emergency Medical ACT B.E.2551 to take care of people who need urgent treatment in private hospitals, more hospitals would be willing to help without hesitation," he said.

Mr Pongpat, also managing director at SET-listed Mahachai Hospital PCL, said Covid-19 inpatients at many hospitals in Bangkok and risk areas have already reached their maximum capacities as turnover for each bed is 14 days compared with an average of 4-5 days for other medical treatments.

He said finding many cases and screening the conditions of each patient is a crucial step to help ease the burden on medical staff.

Patients with a green tag or those with mild symptoms can be relocated to hospitals or isolate at home under the guidance of health experts.

To do this more efficiently, the government should ease the rule compelling all private hospitals to accept patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 as those that don't have the ability to take inpatients will avoid testing altogether.

Mr Pongpat said the government should also focus on procuring more efficient Covid-19 vaccines for medical staff and their families.

"Some countries that have vaccine shortages like Thailand have enrolled in a borrowing scheme. They are asking other countries with large stockpiles to offer jabs to them first as they will return the same amount to them later," he said.

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