According to the minister of public health, COVID-19 patients will no longer be covered by the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) scheme from March 1st and will have to pay their medical bills if they are admitted to private hospital.
The Public Health Ministry plans to remove Covid-19 treatment from the list of conditions covered by the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) scheme from the beginning of next month.
He gave an assurance, however, that COVID-19 patients are still covered by existing health care schemes, such as social security, the gold card scheme, universal healthcare scheme or civil servants medical benefits.
He also said that the National Health Security Office (NHSO) will adjust the cost of an RT-PCR test to 900 baht for a two-gene test and 1,100 baht for the three-gene test, but no charge for swab tests.
The UCEP coverage is reserved for COVID-19 patients with symptoms such as breathing difficulties or severe coughing. Patients with mild to no symptoms can be treated at home or in hospitals. Their medical expenses will be covered by their health security coverage or insurance policies.
Regarding the more contagious BA.2 subvariant of Omicron, the minister said current personal protective measures continue to be effective, while the rollout of booster shots is being accelerated.
Department of Disease Control (DDC) Director-General Dr Opas Karnkawinpong said the general public should not be worried about any Omicron subvariants. The preventative measures and treatment protocols are the same regardless of the strains.
Despite higher transmissibility, the BA.2 subvariant does not seem to show any difference in immune escape or severity when compared to its BA.1 counterpart. The World Health Organization has not declared BA.2 as a variant of interest or a variant of concern.
With the number of new cases on the rise, Dr Opas said the fatality rate in Thailand remains lower than in other countries. Almost all fatal cases are among unvaccinated elders.
Mr Anutin said no one would be left behind by the policy change as the ministry planned to downgrade Covid-19 from a pandemic to endemic disease.
The ministry plans to declare Covid-19 an endemic disease by the end of this year.