According to official sources, hospital treatment for Covid-19 admissions in is cost-free, however those in need should study their circumstances and options carefully, including which services are free.

What the government says

Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong, director-general of the Health Service Support Department, insisted again this month that all COVID-19 patients will receive free treatment from any state or private hospital.

For each patient, the National Health Security Office (NHSO) will pay up to Bt7,200 for medicines, Bt1,500 per night in a hospital, field hospital or hospitel and about Bt3,800 for other items related to COVID-19 care.

“Patients don’t have to pay even when being treated in a private hospital because the NHSO will reimburse the cost,” said NHSO secretary-general Dr Jadej Thammatacharee. “On average, we pay private hospitals about Bt100,000 per [COVID] patient with moderate symptoms, and have paid Bt800,000 to Bt1 million for severe cases.”

However, Tares said patients who want more convenience or special services would have to pay more, in line with fees charged by their medical facilities.

What private hospitals say

Thonburi Healthcare Group’s chairman Dr Boon Vanasin said in a recent media interview that when a patient is diagnosed with COVID-19 in a private hospital, they may either be admitted or transferred to another designated medical facility. In this case, the treatment will be free.

“But if the patient refuses the process prescribed by the government and chooses to be treated in their own hospital, then they will have to pay the difference between the medical cover provided by the government and fees charged by private hospitals,” he told media recently.

Boon said the cost of services like specialists’ fees and medical supplies at private hospitals and state facilities are different. As a result, the patient might have to shoulder the difference.

For instance, Thonburi Healthcare Group charges patients with mild or no symptoms Bt40,000 for a 14-day stay in a hospital. If the patient has a serious underlying condition such as heart disease or uncontrollable diabetes, then the bill rises to Bt200,000 on average if they stay in a private room. In serious cases, where ICU care and hospitalisation of up to one month is required, the bill may rise to Bt1 million-Bt1.5 million.

How to handle bill disputes

Patients are advised to call the NHSO 1330 hotline if they are asked to pay for COVID-19 care. So far, the Public Health Ministry has resolved 44 complaints involving 75 patients. All these patients have been refunded the money taken from them by private hospitals, who said the money was collected by mistake or taken as a guarantee.

Operators of medical facilities found illegally charging COVID-19 patients face up to two years in jail and/or a maximum fine of Bt40,000 under the law.