Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Thai ‘Universal’ Health Plan Goes Into Effect, May Not Include HIV/AIDS
Thailand's new "cheap universal health care" plan went into effect yesterday, but many of those with HIV/AIDS said that they are receiving "poor service" or are being excluded from the plan, BBC News reports. The universal health scheme, one of the "key electoral promises that helped [Prime Minister Thaskin] Shinawatra to a landslide victory" last January, offers doctors' visits for as little as 30 Thai Baht, about $0.67. Those applying for coverage must get a gold card from local medical authorities, a process described by BBC News as "laborious." Despite the logistical hassles, treatment for minor medical conditions and "mundane ailments" has been well received and the plan was deemed satisfactory by government officials after regional testing. But it appears that the government has not allocated enough money to cover those with more expensive conditions, BBC News reports. Thai newspapers have reported that those with tumors are being told that they must pay the entire cost of treatment, while people with long-term illnesses, including those associated with AIDS, are not receiving the same care as those with other ailments or are being excluded from the plan completely. BBC News adds that with the downturn of the Thai economy, "there is little prospect of extra funding being found in the foreseeable future" (Ingram, BBC News, 10/1).
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