Finance Ministry rejigs health scheme
(Bangkok Post) - The Finance Ministry will consider buying health insurance to cover only serious illnesses for state officers as a money-saving measure.
Rangsan Srivorasat, director-general of the Comptroller-General's Department, said the idea has gained the support of Deputy Finance Minister Wirun Techapaiboon.
The ministry is conducting a feasibility study and consulting with insurance companies.
Previously, the department proposed a change to state officials' welfare by purchasing health insurance for all officers instead of allotting an annual budget for disbursement.
However, the idea was opposed by civil servants who feared lower benefits and healthcare expense coverage compared to the current state's welfare as well as the high cost of insurance premiums.
The Finance Ministry, however, is adamant because the insurance healthcare system will help the government effectively reduce the state's healthcare budget in the long term.
Currently, the state's fiscal budget for civil servants welfare is 60 billion baht per year.
"We will initially buy insurance to cover only serious illnesses such as cancer and kidney disease, as it is a trial period for health insurance for state officers. For the first phase, under this condition, healthcare insurance is definitely compatible with the current welfare," said Mr Rangsan.
"Since the cost of medical treatment for serious illness would normally cost the government more than general illness, the insurance policy will help reduce state expenditure. The insurance companies have more ability to take risks. Furthermore, the department plans to negotiate with insurance companies concerning coverage of outpatient expenses too."
Last year, the government's expenditure for state officers' healthcare treatment was 60.1 billion baht, slightly lower than the 2010 figure, but over the past five years, expenses for state officials' medical care has increased by an average 20% per year.