Price controls may be placed on soaring medical costs

Price controls may be placed on soaring medical costs

Patients overcharged by private hospitals submit a petition with 33,000 signatures calling for a new body to control the price of medical treatment. (Bangkok Post file photo, May 12, 2015)
Patients overcharged by private hospitals submit a petition with 33,000 signatures calling for a new body to control the price of medical treatment. (Bangkok Post file photo, May 12, 2015)

The Commerce Ministry is considering putting medicine and medical treatment on the list of controlled goods and services amid concerns over the high cost of private medical care.

Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong on Wednesday promised that he would address the issue of prices of medicine and medical care at private hospitals. The Foundation for Consumers is pushing for the ministry to regulate and control the cost to patients. 

The minister said he has ordered the relevant agencies to finalise a price ceiling for medicine and medical treatment and services for presentation to a meeting in January. Afterwards, he would call a meeting of the ministry's central committee on prices of goods and services prices to put medical costs on the list of controlled goods and services.

Legal measures may be necessary to put the final prices in place, Mr Sontirat said.

Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong

“This does not mean the price of medical care at private hospitals will be the same as at public hospitals. We have to ensure justice for private hospitals too," he said.

"All concerned agencies will have to consider a price ceiling and reach a conclusion before bringing it to the next meeting.’’

The ministry’s plan was short-term. Long-term measures would rest with the Public Health Ministry, he added.

Mr Sontirat spoke after a meeting with representatives of the Public Health Ministry, the Foundation for Consumers, private hospitals and the Thai Life Assurance Association, seeking  their views on medical care prices.

Wichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, confirmed that the agencies had agreed to put medicine and medical treatment on a list of controlled goods.

He said the issue would be forwarded to the central committee on Jan 9 and a sub-panel would be formed to set the standard charges, taking into consideration the capital costs and cost differences of each hospital.


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