The public Health Minister agreed yesterday to address the problem of unreasonably high prices charged by some private hospitals at the request of the Thai Medical Error Network, its president Preeyanan Lorsermvattana said.
After accepting the network's petition, which garnered 33,000 signatures, Public Health Minister Dr Rajata Rajatanavin agreed to set up a central committee to tackle the problem and also said he would summon all related agencies to discuss the issue of overpricing.
Preeyanan also quoted Rajata as saying that this was a complicated problem and required time to solve. Rajata told them talks would be held at the ministry as well as with other concerned parties about setting up the panel, as requested by the network.
She said this was just the first step in moves against unfair practices by private hospitals, adding that once the committee is established it would be responsible for setting out fair prices for all medical care, gather complaints and investigate claims of overpricing.
"I hope this committee will become a centre for patients who face this problem," Preeyanan said, adding that making complaints is tough for individuals at present because they have to go through several agencies, such as the Medical Council of Thailand or the Internal Trade Department.
There was also no guarantee that their complaints would be addressed because many members of the Medical Council's board were also on boards of private hospitals, she said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he has already told the Public Health Ministry to tackle this problem. However, he admitted that the problem of overpricing among private hospitals will affect Thailand's goal to become a healthcare hub.