The National Health Security Board (NHSB) will next month consider reinstating the government’s 30 baht co-payments scheme that was abolished by the military- installed government in 2006 to make universal health coverage free.
National Health Security Office (NHSO) ’s secretary- general Dr Winai Sawasdivorn said NHSO was now studying the model to collect from patients small co-payments charged for treatment.
It will propose the final study to a board meeting next month to decide whether the NHSO should step forward to renew the 30-baht scheme or provide treatment to patients free of charge.
NHSO has instructed Health Insurance System Research Office director, Dr Samrit Srithamrongsawas to study a model on collecting co-payments charged for treatment.
” Personally I support the co-payment scheme but it must be clear that the co-payment scheme would not be an obstacle for people to access treatment,” he said.
The 30-baht scheme was initiated by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2002 to provide universal health care to over 48-million people. The small co-payment charge was later abolished by the military installed government in 2006 to make it free.
Now the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra plans to relaunch the co-payment scheme, reasoning it would improve medical services provided by the NHSO.
Winai said the NHSO is now studying the eligibility of patients to receive free of charge treatment. Children aged under 12 year, people aged over 60 and low income groups would be excluded from the co-payment scheme.
” We are now working on finding the definition of low income groups,” he said.
He added that the NHSO would join the Social Security Scheme and the Civil Servant Medical Benefit Scheme (CSMB) to provide the same medical treatment and services for people living with HIV/Aids and patients with last stages of chronic kidney disease.
“Patients will receive the same drugs and same treatment anywhere,” he said, adding he would start talking with the other two national health care schemes next month.
People with HIV/Aids who registered with the NHSO would receive anti-retroviral drugs, a simple blood test – gauge the functioning CD4 cells in the body and health of the immune system – and a blood test to measure HIV in a patient’s body.
Patient registered with the CSMB are not required to receive a blood test to measure CD4 cells and the extent of HIV.
” The harmonization of medical services under three national health care schemes would help patients with kidney disease and those living with HIV/Aids to receive life-saving drugs and treatment continuously,” Winai said.
NHSO member, Nimitr Tien-udom, who represented a civic group, said he would oppose the government’s plan to renew the co-payment scheme as it would create financial burdens for the poor.
He said that while the government will be asking people to pay the co-payment for medical treatment and will exclude low income groups from the co-payment scheme – it must make sure the scheme does not stigmatize poor patients.
” We will campaign to ask people if the plan will create a financial burden for them,” he said, adding that the government has a responsibility to provide free treatment to the public.