More than 101 billion baht of the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (Ucep) scheme has been spent treating Covid-19 sufferers, mostly with mild symptoms, over the past two years, says the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said Ucep will carry on being used for Covid-19 treatments, adding that any changes to the scheme must not hinder people's access to treatment.
Dr Taweesilp's remarks follow the Public Health Ministry's request that the cabinet defer indefinitely the plan to remove Covid-19 treatment for sufferers with no or mild symptoms from the list of conditions covered by the Ucep scheme.
The plan sparked an outcry, prompting the ministry to explain that the offer of free treatment for people with moderate and severe conditions will be kept under Ucep.
Dr Taweesilp said on Wednesday the cost of Covid-19 treatments has continued to climb since the first Covid outbreak in 2020.
In 2020, a budget of 3.8 billion baht was disbursed for treating Covid-19 sufferers. Last year, the cost shot up to 97.7 billion baht while this year's total treatment cost has reached 32.4 billion baht.
To date, about 101 billion baht has been disbursed by the government to pay for treatment provided at both state-run and private medical facilities and hospitals. Another 32.4 billion baht is pending disbursement.
Breaking down the figures by sufferers' conditions, for those in the green group with no or mild symptoms, the average cost is estimated at 23,248 baht per head per treatment at state-run hospitals, and 50,326 baht per person at private hospitals.
For sufferers in the yellow group or those with moderate conditions, the cost climbs to 81,844 baht per person per treatment at state-run hospitals and 92,752 baht on a comparable level at private hospitals.
For those in the red group with severe conditions, the cost rises to 252,182 baht per person per treatment at state-run hospitals and to 375,428 baht at private hospitals.
Starting from March 1, the National Health Security Office (NHSO), which manages Ucep, will reduce the maximum cost of treatment at state-run hospitals as it has determined the Omicron variant of Covid-19 generally does not cause severe conditions.
The CCSA has found that 88% of Covid-19 sufferers who received hospital care via Ucep were in the green group, while the yellow and red groups account for only 12% of patients.