Thai Government mandates free care for COVID-19 patients

To ensure that no one fails to seek medical treatment because of costs, the government told private hospitals they should not bill anyone for COVID-19 treatment or care and that the government will shoulder the price tag.

The mandate to provide free treatment and care was part of a broad set of government measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus. As of 10 April 2020, Thailand had 2,473 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 33 deaths. Thailand has a strong public health system, and it has so far responded effectively to the pandemic.

The national government has imposed a 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew in the capital Bangkok, encouraged physical distancing, closed schools, restaurants, bars, and other non-essential businesses, and ramped up production of facemasks and other equipment. Most travel to the Kingdom has been shut down, and the few still arriving placed in quarantine. Governors in several provinces have imposed complete lockdowns and made it illegal to go outside without wearing a mask.

Although Thailand has a universal health care system, costs can still remain a barrier for some people, especially if they are far from a public hospital and must use a closer private hospital, where patients are charged.

To contain the spread of the virus, it is essential that those with symptoms seek testing, treatment, and care. Therefore, the government not only said it would reimburse private hospitals but also warned them against charging Covid-19 patients.

Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul signed the announcement that the government would use the country’s various health security funds to underwrite and reimburse hospitals for treating coronavirus patients. The statement was prompted by reports that some private hospitals had been charging several thousands of dollars to treat some patients.

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