Currently, only peritoneal dialysis is free for patients under the National Health Security Office (gold card holders), while the less invasive haemodialysis costs up to Bt20,000 a month.
Anutin delivered the good news for kidney patients after meeting with National Health Security Office (NHSO) secretary-general Jadet Thamthat-Aree, Nephrology Society of Thailand chief Surasak Kantachuwessiri, and Association of Friends of Kidney Patients president Thanapol Dokkaew.
Anutin said he held the meeting to ensure sudden demand for free haemodialysis from February 1 does not affect kidney patient care in general.
The NHSO board of directors earlier this month agreed to subsidise haemodialysis for patients who do not want to receive peritoneal dialysis.
Jadet said the NHSO approved free haemodialysis after hearing some kidney patients complain they could not have the operation for peritoneal dialysis and were left shouldering the Bt1,500 cost of dialysis treatments on their own.
Jadet said an NHSO study found that the cost of subsidising free dialysis treatment was not too high but would improve the quality of life for this group of patients.
To be eligible for free dialysis, patients must gain consent from their doctors, he said.
Of the 30,802 dialysis patients currently being treated under the NHSO, 6,546 are unsuited to the peritoneal method, Jadet said.
The NHSO also found that 5,000 peritoneal dialysis patients want to switch to haemodialysis instead.
The NHSO will spend Bt719.9 million to provide free haemodialysis for the remaining eight months of fiscal year 2022. The money will come from leftover NHSO budget, including from fiscal year 2021, Jadet added.
After gaining their doctor’s approval, kidney patients can receive two free dialysis treatments per week at any dialysis facility – not just their gold-card hospital.
Surasak said the people will benefit from the new policy, after 10 years of the free peritoneal method when there weren’t enough dialysis machines to go round.
Thanapol thanked Anutin and the NHSO, saying free blood dialysis would help low-income earners save up to 20,000 baht per month in treatment expenses. However, he was concerned over whether there would be enough dialysis machines and medical staff to treat the increasing number of patients who use the free service.
Published : January 28, 2022
By : THE NATION