Free medical care to remain for severely ill Covid patients

Free medical care to remain for severely ill Covid patients

Staff of the National Health Security Office are receiving calls from Covid-19 cases via its hotline number 1330. (Photo: NHSO)
Staff of the National Health Security Office are receiving calls from Covid-19 cases via its hotline number 1330. (Photo: NHSO)

Covid-19 patients who have severe symptoms can still receive free treatment at any private or state hospital under the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (Ucep) Plus scheme after Covid-19 status is downgraded to a communicable disease under surveillance starting Oct 1.

Dr Atchariya Phaengma, secretary-general of the National Institute of Emergency Medicine (Niem), clarified the rights of Covid-19 patients under the Ucep Plus scheme ahead of the change in status.

He said Ucep Plus has not been scrapped, but changes will be made to the criteria used to classify infected patients as Green, Yellow or Red.

Niem will set the criteria for determining the symptoms of patients in the Yellow and Red categories. The criteria will be announced tomorrow.

Under the revised criteria, Covid-19 sufferers with severe symptoms (Red category) can receive free treatment at any private or state hospital while Covid-19 patients with moderate symptoms (Yellow category) will no longer be eligible for free treatment, he said.

The Yellow group, like those with mild symptoms (Green category), has to use other medical channels covered by their health insurance schemes, such as the social security or universal health care schemes, said Dr Atchariya.

He said the Ucep scheme was introduced in 2017 to ensure that people who require emergency care receive it free of charge. Niem is responsible for patient screening, and those who are not eligible will be charged.

Following the coronavirus outbreak, "Ucep Covid-19" was introduced to provide free treatment to all groups regardless of whether they had mild, moderate or severe symptoms.

"Ucep Covid-19" was scrapped in March this year and replaced with "Ucep Plus" under which Covid-19 patients with moderate or severe symptoms could receive free treatment.

This scheme remains after the change of Covid-19 status but the criteria for determining mild, moderate and severe symptoms will not be the same.

"For example, the vulnerable group known as '608' who are asymptomatic Covid-19 patients were put in the Yellow category and covered by Ucep Plus. However, under the new criteria, this group isn't eligible for coverage for Ucep Plus," he said.


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