Universal coverage for emergency patients programme starts April 1

Starting on April 1, the universal coverage for emergency patients programme will come into force, making it compulsory for all state and private hospitals to accept emergency patients for necessary treatment during the first 72 hours.

Under the programme, emergency patients will not be required to pay any expenses during the first 72 hours of acceptance and eventual treatment at any hospitals. The expenses incurred during this crucial period will be covered by the programme which is funded by the government.

Two Public Health ministerial announcements have been issued to implement the programme � one regarding the guidelines of treatment for emergency patients and the other about terms and guidelines on expenses.

Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsattayatorn said that there might be some glitches during the initial stage of the programme implementation and the ministry is open to criticism so that it would be able to make improvements.

He noted that doctors at emergency ward would decide which cases are regarded as emergency and doctors’ judgement might differ from that of the patients or their relatives in which case the coordinating centre to protect emergency patients will make the final decisions.

Dr Piyasakol further said that it would take between 10-15 minutes for doctors to determine whether a case is regarded as emergency or not and the patient in question would be informed of the decision so the patient will be transferred to the other hospitals where he/she is entitled to medical coverage.

Dr Pongpat Patharnvanich, president of private hospitals association, said that taking care of patients during the first 72 hours should not be a problem for hospitals if there are guidelines about expenses from the ministry.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)