Patients can, from now on, expect reasonable prices for treatment at private hospitals and can demand that private hospitals provide an estimate of their treatment costs, including the prices of medication, as well as the costs of nursing and treatment services, before undergoing treatment. The new consumer rights were announced by the Commerce Ministry.
The ministerial announcement, which is now enforceable, aims to impose price controls on medical service charges at private hospitals, which have long been criticized by consumer protection groups for profiteering.
According to the announcement, private hospitals, producers, importers and distributers of medicines must declare, to the Internal Trade Department, the prices of medicinal products defined in the UCEP list and the TMT list is the next step.
Internal Trade Department director-general Vichai Plohanakit said that this measure will ensure fair prices for patients, adding that executives of private hospitals which fail to comply will be liable to one year imprisonment and/or a fine of 20,000 baht plus an addition fine of 2,000 baht per day until they do comply.
Private hospitals must display QR codes showing the prices of medicines to give the public easy access to their pricing information.
For out-patient medication, private hospitals are now required to issue a prescription showing both the generic and trade names of the drugs, their price and how they are used.
Mr. Vichai explained that private hospitals must not provide unnecessary medical treatment or services to the patients as a way of overcharging them.
A committee to oversee reasonable treatment will be set up in each province to handle complaints from patients. Executives of private hospitals that charge their patients for unreasonable treatment may face seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 140,000 baht.