Thai public hospitals ordered to implement dual-pricing for foreigners

Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok. Photo: BunBn / Wikimedia Commons
Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok. Photo: BunBn / Wikimedia Commons

Health officials have instructed administrators at Thailand’s state hospitals to begin implementing a new rate structure that significantly raises prices for non-citizens.

In an internal order seen by Coconuts Bangkok addressed to hospital directors and medical professionals, the health ministry says it is “enforcing the 2019 rate of public health services for patients of Thai nationality and the 2019 rate of public health services for foreign patients … for effective management and for the rates to go in the same direction.”

It was written Tuesday and sent to regional health offices.

Dual-pricing for foreigners now legal at Thai public hospitals

Under the new rules that came into effect this week, public hospitals are to charge patients at essentially four different tiers based on their legal status: Thai nationals, citizens of neighboring countries and working foreigners on non-immigrant visas. The fourth group consists of tourists and retirees.

While foreigners from other ASEAN nations will pay the same rates as Thai nationals, they increase significantly for the third group – which includes most expats – while retirees and tourists pay much more, often double.

As we reported when breaking the news last month, a detailed breakdown of fees showed things like a simple antibody screening, which would cost Thais and ASEAN residents THB130, will now cost expats THB190. Retirees and tourists would pay double – THB260.

Want an HIV test? The THB160 charged to Thais and ASEAN nationals goes up to THB240 for working expats and THB320 for retirees/tourists.

Thailand’s medical tourism brought in an estimated THB18.4 billion baht ($US600 million) in 2018, but most seek treatment at private hospitals.

On the higher end, a spinal MRI that costs Thais and their neighbors THB18,700 jumps up to THB23,375 for working expats and THB28,050 for retirees/tourists.

The new rules introduced the kind of dual-pricing for foreigners that has been a source of complaints over the years when it happened illicitly. Now, it’s the law.

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