By Poungchompoo Prasert
Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said yesterday that 2016 would see major reforms in the “gold card’ universal healthcare coverage scheme as regulations such as patients co-paying for treatments get put in place.
Saying that many countries admired this scheme as it could take care of people across the nation on a small budget, he pointed out that the scheme’s budget came solely from the government. He added that the budget had grown continuously until it stood at about 4.6 per cent of the gross domestic product.
Hence, he said, the co-payment system aimed to keep the scheme sustainable and stable as the costs have been on the increase every year, and the government could not shoulder the responsibility of financing it alone anymore. He was speaking at the government’s “Meet the Press” event yesterday about the ministry’s one-year achievements.
Affirming no developed countries had implemented such a healthcare scheme, Piyasakol called on the general public for support, adding that he was willing to invite all sides to offer solutions.
“People say that I will be slammed over the co-payment method, and I’m willing to suffer this because if nobody dares improve this scheme, it will go bankrupt. If anybody disagrees with this, they should offer better solutions,” he said.
Piyasakol added that the committee tasked with providing a guideline on raising resources for the scheme’s sustainability, proposed that the overall idea should be upholding the concept of “SAFE” (sustainable, accessible, fair and effective) and additional financial aid should be provided to the scheme.
The panel was led by public health specialist Dr Suwit Wibulpolprasert and advised by expert health economist Ammar Siamwalla.
Piyasakol said he would invite the panel members, including Dr Suwit, to a meeting on December 29 and would set up a working team to proceed on this matter right away.