Prayut plans to abolish the gold card?
“I would like the Thai people to come out and exercise more so that there is less hassle on our expenditure on healthcare, and we can divert our budget towards other areas that are in need” – Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha
The Prime Minister’s invitation for citizens to come out and exercise had spiralled into a public debate on whether the government is planning to abolish the gold card for universal healthcare.
This speculation also stems from the government setting up a special committee to review The National Health Security Act 2545, coupled with Prime Minister Prayut invoking section 44 to make amendments for the 16-year-old gold card scheme.
Rumors regarding the abolishment of the gold card is not true. In reality, the government has not only sustained its services for affordable access to healthcare nationwide but also extending its capacity in treatment.
According to Bloomberg’s Health Care Efficiency Index 2018, Thailand had the greatest improvement in the world moving 14 places and is currently ranked 27th highest in the world, beating countries such as the UK, the US and Germany.
Although the Prime Minister did make remarks about Thais not taking their health seriously due to the government’s free healthcare and the Ministry of Finance’s proposal to charge for healthcare, the gold card continues to benefit the Thai society and will continue to be that way.
Prime Minister Prayut has reiterated several times that he has no plans to scrap the gold card, and emphasized his intentions to extend the card’s capacity. The improved universal healthcare policy of Thailand has been praised by the international community for its effectiveness and inclusiveness, and will be used as a model for other countries.
The government has also introduced family doctors who are trained for local care while reserving hospitals for specialist care, as well as deploying officials from the Ministry of Public Health to visit patients directly to their homes nationwide.
As a result of extensive efforts to improve the country’s healthcare, the average Thai is now paying 40% less for health expenditures which is around 7,086 baht ($219), and the average life expectancy has improved from 75.1 from 74.6 years.