Commerce Ministry warns on prices

Commerce Ministry warns on prices

Patients overcharged by private hospitals submit a petition with 33,000 signatures calling for a new body to control the prices of medical treatment at Government House in Bangkok in 2015. (File photo by Thanarak Khunton)
Patients overcharged by private hospitals submit a petition with 33,000 signatures calling for a new body to control the prices of medical treatment at Government House in Bangkok in 2015. (File photo by Thanarak Khunton)

The Commerce Ministry is once again warning private hospitals of severe legal repercussions for overcharging patients, after several probes found that many medical facilities often mark up the prices of their medicines by as much as 900%.

The source said complaints have been received via the 1569 hotline alerting the ministry to the problem.

One caller claimed to have been charged 30,000 baht to be treated for diarrhoea at a private hospital.

"Other complaints mostly concern overpriced medicines," the source said.

In response, the ministry set up a fact-finding team to review the costs of medical services and medicines at private hospitals and to determine if they are fair and reasonable.

The source said that in the case where the patient received a 30,000-baht bill for a diarrhoea diagnosis, the fact-finding team found that the hospital in question added hidden charges to the patient's final bill, and was found guilty of "over-treating" the patient.

The source said hospital administration officers found guilty of profiteering by marking up the prices of medical services and/or treatments could face jail terms of up to seven years and/or a maximum fine of 140,000 baht under the Prices of Goods and Services Act.

The Department of Internal Trade (DIT) is also planning to invite 70 private hospitals to explain the reasons why prices of medicines sold at hospital dispensaries could be up to 900% more expensive compared to their recommended retail prices.

Once the prices have been compiled and adjusted, the DIT will publish the prices on its website for public reference.


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