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News From Thailand: National Health Program

October 24, 2013

In the Autumn of 2011, when the new Thai government came into power, it implemented a campaign promise to create a national health program that provides all Thais with health services for about one dollar US per visit. The program was conceived by the administrator of a hospital that had managed to develop and carry out the medical delivery systems in his hospital to such a high degree of efficiency that it allowed the hospital to charge the patient only a little more than that. The program passed in the first few hours of the new administration. A quasi-independent board was set up to administer it.

The hospital administrator that developed the program was appointed to head the new entity. I has proven wildly successful, much to the chagrin of the pharmaceutical industry (mostly foreign corporations) because unlike Obamacare in the US which in a compromise with the industry did not allow Medicare to freely choose the lowest cost supplier by forcing them to compete on price, the Thai program did. It was very successful in bringing down costs.

The Administrator of the Thai program has recently proposed to manufacture generic drugs in general use not patent protected in order to further reduce costs. That apparently was the last straw. Under pressure from the foreign pharmaceutical companies, the government sacked the administrator and turned the entire program over to administration by local political leaders.

 

 

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