Thursday, September 23, 2021

in-focus

Cabinet approves THB3.75bn boost for NHSO’s battle against Covid-19


The Cabinet has approved a THB3.75-billion fund for National Health Security Office (NHSO) health units to combat the Covid-19 emergency. The fund is part of the governments THB1-trillion package to fight the pandemic and mitigate its social and economic impact.

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It will cover the cost of Covid-19 services in hospitals without interrupting other essential health services under the Universal Health Coverage System.

NHSO secretary-general Dr Jadej Thammathat-Aree said that part of the approved fund would answer the increasing need for Covid-19 screening tests after the highly contagious UK strain was discovered in Thailand. The tests are reserved for "Patients Under Investigation" – people with Covid-19 symptoms who have visited virus hotspots or work in quarantine facilities – according to Department of Disease Control (DDC) guidelines.

However, recent local cases with the UK variant tend to show no or very few symptoms, pushing the DDC to include "doctor's diagnosis" as a new condition for screening tests.

As a result, more people require the tests despite showing no symptoms.

The government fund obtained by the NHSO will cover:

1. Nasopharyngeal/throat swab specimen test RT-PCR (NHSO will cover THB1,600 per test, THB600 for staff compensation, and THB100 for specimen collection).

2. Combination of RT-PCR: Pooled saliva samples (THB320 per test, THB100 for staff fees, and THB100 for specimen collection).

Pooled nasopharyngeal and throat swab samples (THB400 per test, THB75 for staff fees, and THB100 for specimen collection)

Repeat RT-PCR test after a positive result (THB1,600 per test, THB200 for staff fees and specimen collection).

3. Antigen test (Up to THB1,200 per test).

4. Antibody test (Up to THB350 per test).

Dr Jadej Thammathat-Aree

The fund will also cover the cost of running negative pressure rooms (THB2,500/case/day,) field hospitals and hospitels (THB1,500/case/day.)

Though the government encourages people to get Covid-19 testing and treatment at state hospitals, NHSO will cover the cost of services for patients receiving these services in private hospitals.

"The Covid-19 pandemic is an emergency whose financial burdens will fall on patients if healthcare schemes do not cover them. We want everyone in Thailand to feel confident that if they follow doctors and hospital staff's guidance, they will not need to pay any fees," said Dr Jadej.

NHSO will reimburse the fees directly to hospital operators, who can now claim costs for Covid-19 treatment every two weeks.

It normally takes around one month to transfer public health funds to hospital operators.

"This will maintain financial liquidity for hospital operators who must provide emergency services every day," said Dr Jadej.

Anutin Charnvirakul

Published : April 30, 2021

By : The Nation