Hospitals may have to list prices online

Hospitals may have to list prices online

The Internal Trade Department will ask private hospitals to post their prices online to encourage greater transparency and competition, a senior official said on Friday.

Prayoth Benyasut, the department's deputy director-general, said the proposed measure is intended to stop overcharging amid growing concerns over the high cost of private medical care.

The Foundation for Consumers last year gathered over 50,000 signatures on a petition calling for the government to impose regulations on the price of procedures at private hospitals.

The proposal has been raised with the Public Health Ministry's Department of Health Services Support as part of a joint effort to regulate medical care prices at privately-run hospitals, Mr Prayoth said.

Prices required to be posted online are likely to include standard charges for medicines and surgical expenses.

The department will work closely with the Department of Health Services Support to determine a list of standard charges, according to Mr Prayoth.

The Internal Trade Department last month surveyed a total of 62 privately run hospitals in Bangkok and found they have different practices regarding the matter.

"We visited hospitals during Oct 1-5 to see how they handle this. Many include medical care prices in information brochures while some post the prices online.

"So there should be a standard practice regarding the cost of health care. And because these hospitals already have websites, they are likely to be required to post the prices online," he said.

Mr Prayoth said after the issue is finalised, the private hospitals will be invited for talks to make sure that they understand the requirement and properly follow them.

He said the Ministry of Commerce is going to discuss listing medicine and medical treatment as controlled goods and services under the 1999 price control law with the Public Health Ministry.

Currently, hospitals are required by the Commerce Ministry to post prices either at their premises or online for patients to review. They are also required by the Public Health Ministry to list standard charges and patients' rights on their premises.

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