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Free medical care for critically ill Covid patients

Staff at the National Health Security Office are receiving calls of Covid-19 cases through their 1330 helpline number. (Picture: NHSO)

Patients with Covid-19 who have severe symptoms can still receive free treatment at any private or public hospital under the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (Ucep) Plus program after Covid status. -19 was downgraded to a communicable disease under surveillance from October 1.

Dr Atchariya Phaengma, secretary general of the National Institute of Emergency Medicine (Niem), clarified the rights of Covid-19 patients under the Ucep Plus scheme ahead of the change in status.

He said Ucep Plus had not been discontinued, but changes would be made to the criteria used to classify infected patients as green, yellow or red.

Niem will establish the criteria for determining patient symptoms in the Yellow and Red categories. The criteria will be announced tomorrow.

According to the revised criteria, patients with Covid-19 with severe symptoms (red category) can receive free treatment in any private or public hospital, while patients with Covid-19 with moderate symptoms (category yellow) will no longer be eligible for free treatment, he said.

The yellow group, like those with mild symptoms (green category), should use other medical channels covered by their health insurance plans, such as Social Security or universal health care plans, Dr. Atchariya.

He said the Ucep scheme was introduced in 2017 to ensure that people in need of emergency care receive it free of charge. Niem is responsible for screening patients, and those who are not eligible will be charged.

Following the coronavirus epidemic, “Ucep Covid-19” was introduced to provide free treatment to all groups, whether they have mild, moderate or severe symptoms.

“Ucep Covid-19” was phased out in March this year and replaced with “Ucep Plus” under which Covid-19 patients with moderate or severe symptoms could receive free treatment.

This pattern remains after the change in Covid-19 status but the criteria for determining mild, moderate and severe symptoms will not be the same.

“For example, the vulnerable group known as ‘608’ who are asymptomatic Covid-19 patients have been categorized as yellow and covered by Ucep Plus. However, under the new criteria, this group does not is not eligible for Ucep Plus coverage,” he said.

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