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Thai universal healthcare scheme saves 80,000 families from bankruptcy

The Bangkok Post:

Launched in 2001, the UCS covered the remaining 47 million people, mainly those who were not enrolled in two other schemes – the civil service medical benefits for government officials and family members, and the social security scheme for employees in private sector.

An assessment by a group of independent health system researchers and economists from international organisations including the World Health Organisation, found that this universal health coverage has prevented over 80,000 families from bankruptcy due to timely health treatment during its 10 years of implementation.

Conducted in 2011, the assessment showed that catastrophic health expenditure dropped from 6.8% in 1996 to 2.8% in 2008.

Impoverishment as measured by an additional number of non-poor households falling below the national poverty line due to medical treatment costs, was reduced significantly from 2.71% in 2000 prior to the UCS, to 0.49% in 2009.

Progress in the universal health scheme was also indicated by increasing outpatient visits per member per year from 2.41 in 2003 to 3.64 in 2011.

The number of hospital admissions almost doubled between 2003 and 2011. Data from 2010 showed a very low prevalence of unmet needs for health services in Thailand.

The report suggested that considering the positive results, the scheme should be maintained, even extended to minimise out-of-pocket payment and prevent impoverishment caused by healthcare expenditure among a majority of the population.

According to the book Good Health at Low Cost 25 Years On, launched during the week-long Prince Mahidol Awards Conference, outperformed many other countries in improving health outcomes at a low health funding per capita of 2,755 baht.

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