|Published:||20 Aug at 6 PM|
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Speaking to the media after Thai private hospitals’ price lists were received, a spokesperson from the Department of Internal Trade insisted the crackdown on price gouging would continue.
Since the price-gouging scandal operated by Thailand’s private hospital chains was revealed online, government action has focused on the cost of medicines supplied by hospital pharmacies as against the recommended prices. For some years, price-gouging by Thai private hospitals has been a cause of anger amongst the country’s expat community, many of whom have posted their own experiences on social media. Inflated prices charged to expat patients for prescription medications were found to be up to 3,000 per cent of the price in a local pharmacy.
In addition to private hospitals’ price lists, the department studied lists from manufacturers, dealers and importers and are using their findings to set fair prices for medications prescribed in private hospitals. The new lists will be made available to patients, as will the QR codes of the products, thus allowing patients to check prices in local pharmacies as well. After the legislation is completed, hospitals breaking the rules and unable to explain why a specific medicine is still overpriced will face a fine of 140,000 baht or even a seven-year jail term.
A total of 20 private hospitals across Thailand which refused to submit their price lists to the department are to be summoned to testify as to the reasons for their non-compliance by the deadline of July 31. If they still refuse to attend, fines of 5,000 baht and/or a three month jail sentence will be imposed. In addition, hospitals which have provided incomplete data will also face fines, as will other facilities found to have breached the deadline. The department is also preparing to release an online list of pharmacies, although the move is yet to be approved by the Thai Pharmacy Council.
Also very much of interest to expats living and working in Thailand is a new rule which ensures patients are given estimated costs for their treatment before admission to a private hospital. There’s no news as yet about price gouging on the cost of overnight stays, operations, diagnostic procedures and other important aspects of medical and surgical care, all of which are issues of concern for older expats in Thailand, many of whom had considered the 800,000 baht retirement visa deposit would cover emergency treatment. Since the new visa rules were introduced, at least half of that amount must now be kept in the relevant bank account and cannot be used.
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