The Department of Health Service Support (DHSS) is investigating after a news report went viral on social media claiming that a private hospital asked a COVID-19 patient to donate 100,000 baht before being given a patient bed.
Tares Krassanairawiwong, director-general of the DHSS, said the department is concerned about the report. He had heard the same story before.
Nonetheless, he has instructed private hospitals to provide medical treatment for all COVID-19 patients without any conditions.
Dr Krassanairawiwong said expenses for each COVID-19 patient will be incurred by the National Health Security Office (NHSO).
“If a private hospital violates the law, people should file complaints to the department. We will send our staff to examine them,” he said.
Regarding the story circulating on the internet, he said the patient should submit a petition directly to the department to identify the hospital and other details as it will be helpful for the department as it investigates, he said.
Dr Krassanairawiwong said he had reported the matter to a private hospital Line chat and asked them to help find out if the allegation is true.
“If COVID-19 patients are told to pay medical expenses after their treatment, they can refuse to pay, telling those hospitals that their welfare will be covered by the NHSO. Those who are still forced to pay can report the matter to the department on the 1426 hotline and we will investigate,” he said.
NHSO secretary-general Jadet Thammathat-Aree said the NHSO is normally responsible for meeting the medical expenses of COVID-19 patients at private hospitals.
“As for this alleged donation case, the agency needs to investigate and find out if corruption is really being perpetrated by executives or individuals – we have never asked for donations with COVID-19 patients before,” Dr Thammathat-Aree said.
As the agency covers all charges demanded by private hospitals, the hospitals must not charge anything else. People can help monitor private hospitals on hotline 1330, Dr Thammathat-Aree said.
Several patients have told NHSO previously that private hospitals have charged them more to pay for certain costs. The NHSO later ordered them to repay the patient.
It is unclear how many more such cases have come to light, though the government has expressed concerns about the matter and asked hospitals to cooperate.