The National Health Security Office (NHSO) is considering listing additional benefits, including cancer treatment, under the 30-baht healthcare universal package or “gold card” scheme as well as offering free screenings to people who are not card holders, according to NHSO secretary-general Jadet Thammathat-Aree.
Dr Jadet also revealed on Monday that the NHSO is looking into potential medication to add on the national list of essential medicines to provide more access for patients in need of affordable medication.
He said that the office is contacting pharmaceutical companies to provide targeted therapy which is essential for many cancer patients especially those suffering from breast cancer.
“We are trying to promote health check-ups before falling ill because the chance of recovery is higher if patients find the disease at an early stage. Our new benefits [in the gold card scheme] will focus on cancers but the related policies must be first discussed,” said Dr Jadet.
When asked if cytisine — a medicine for smoking cessation — will be included in the national list of essential medicines, Dr Jadet said that it is being considered.
He mentioned that the NHSO is putting an emphasis on health screenings as a preventive measure, and would include the 24-rare-diseases health screening for newborns and cancer tests.
However, the numbers taking up the chance of preventative testing has not reached the targeted goal. Dr Jadet said that only 1.6 million women are screened for cervical cancer screening per year. If the NHSO allows at-home health tests, the number might rise to five million women, he predicted.
Also, the NHSO is working with the Social Security Office (SSO) to targeted groups of non-members such as factory workers who are often surveyed to be one of the least likely professions to seek early cancer testing.
He added that the office receives hundreds of millions of baht worth of budget every year which has not been used. That could fund health promotion and disease prevention for the most needy groups who are not insured by the gold card scheme, said Dr Jadet.