Gold-card care set to widen
Universal health care scheme gold-card subscribers will be able to access medical facilities anywhere in the country with the lower northeastern provinces piloting the project starting early next year, according to the Public Health Ministry.
The card members currently obtain medical treatment and services at specific hospitals and medical facilities. The scheme will widen access for them, said Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
"This policy will be put into practice step by step. People shouldn't worry that it will increase demand for medical services at major hospitals and overstretch resources there," the minister said.
Mr Anutin said the ministry is streamlining the gold-card healthcare system so subscribers can treated at any hospital or facility.
To avoid overcrowding at certain hospitals, a zoning method might be implemented where hospitals in a given zone in a province will specialise in treating certain diseases and ailments.
Mr Anutin said the anywhere-access scheme will not overburden hospitals and medical facilities with expenses as the system will be managed efficiently with an allocation of sufficient manpower.
He was allaying fears created by rumours the new programme will result in some healthcare services being axed to curb an expected rise in expenses.
The minister called the rumours misinformation designed to discredit the ministry by elements with interests in clinics in Bangkok that were barred from serving members of the gold-card scheme, also known as the 30-baht universal health plan.
In July, the National Health Security Office (NHSO), which runs the scheme, filed complaints against 18 health clinics in the city believed to have embezzled 72 million baht from the gold card scheme.
The complaints say the clinics changed the health records of their patients, adding false information so they could claim additional reimbursement from the NHSO.
The gold-card pilot project is expected to start on Jan 1 or next April.