Medical price controls to shake up Thai healthcare

Thailand’s government has approved plans to control medical prices in private hospitals. The new price controls will present a shake-up and opportunities for public and private healthcare providers in Thailand, to provide more value and quality to their domestic and international patients.

Thailand’s government has approved Ministry of Commerce plans to put medical fees, including drugs, supplies and service charges, on the price control list of the government’s central committee on prices of goods and services. A subcommittee has been formed to work out measures to control the prices.

Private hospitals and healthcare providers, used to putting up their prices each year, are going to be hardest hit and are lobbying hard to stop the new rules. It is unclear whether the government may stay firm on the plan.

Part of the debate is whether price controls will help or hinder Thai medical tourism. If private hospitals charge reasonable prices, the number of customers is likely to increase and retain hospitals’ profitability.

According to the data from the Health Service Support Department at the Ministry of Public Health there are 470 private hospitals and 600 public hospitals in Thailand, 40% of which are in the Bangkok Metropolitan Area.

The private hospital sector has been undergoing structural change, and the effects of this are becoming increasingly clear. Large hospitals that are able to expand rapidly are doing so through mergers and acquisitions and by expanding their commercial networks.

For a more detailed analysis of the medical travel sector in the Thailand, visit the IMTJ Country Profile.