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Govt to stop covering Covid treatment outside patients’ normal rights from July 1


The government will stop covering medical expenses of Covid-19 patients outside their normal rights starting from July 1 unless their condition is critical, a senior medical official said on Thursday.

National Health Security Office (NHSO) deputy secretary-general Dr Atthaporn Limpanyalert was referring to an earlier announcement by the office which will take effect on July 1.

The announcement was issued on June 19 subject to Covid-19 being officially declared endemic. The Public Health Ministry had announced the pandemic would be downgraded to endemic status on July 1.

Atthaporn explained that from July 1 the NHSO would stop covering or reimbursing medical expenses of Covid-19 patients in cases of home isolation, treatments inside hospitels and treatment at hospitals where the patients are not entitled to receive free medical treatment.

He said only critical or “red” category Covid-19 patients would still be allowed to receive treatment at any hospital and the NHSO would reimburse these hospitals for their medical expenses.

Atthaporn said patients in the “green” group, or with a minor health condition, and those in the “yellow” category, or with mild condition, must go to hospitals where they are entitled to receive free treatment under the NHSO universal medical plan or social security.

“Only patients in the red category can still be treated anywhere under the UCEP [Universal Coverage for Emergency],” Atthaporn explained.

Earlier, when the government started relaxing Covid restrictions on grounds that the Omicron variant was seen to not cause severe symptoms, the government removed Covid-19 from the UCEP but coined the term “UCEP Plus”, allowing people in the yellow or red categories to receive treatment anywhere.

Atthaporn said it would depend on doctors whether to admit patients in the yellow category or treat them as outpatients.

After July 1, hotline 1330 would still be operational to provide advice to the public on Covid-19, and if they need hospital beds, the NHSO call centre would help coordinate this for them, Atthaporn said.

People are advised to first call the National Institute for Emergency Medicine via 1669 to consult staff about their condition and to evaluate whether they need to be sent to hospital before calling 1330, he said.

During the past three years of the pandemic, the NHSO has covered Covid-19 medical expenses worth 150 billion baht, Atthaporn added.

Meanwhile, Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutecha confirmed on Thursday that after the pandemic is downgraded on July 1, people would only receive the treatment they are entitled to.

Satit said that although the pandemic is scheduled to be declared endemic from July 1, people should remain cautious and continue to wear face masks.

Published : June 30, 2022

By : THE NATION