(Photo by Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)
Although Thailand shifted into post-pandemic mode on July 1, thousands of people are still catching COVID-19 each day.
However, as most people are vaccinated, the number of patients who suffer severe illness or death has remained relatively low.
Thai PBS World offers some guidelines on what to do if you test positive for the new coronavirus.
If you have mild or no symptoms, do not rush to the nearest hospital for treatment. Medical treatment for COVID-19 patients is no longer free at all hospitals.
Since the post-pandemic mode kicked off, patients with mild cases of COVID-19 are being treated like those suffering from a common cold.
Know your rights
First, check to see which health scheme you are covered by. In Thailand, there are three major state healthcare programs – universal healthcare coverage, social security, and the medical scheme for civil servants and their families. However, those who have private insurance may get extra benefits when it comes to COVID treatment.
Once you have worked out your medical rights, you can then find out where you can exercise these rights.
For instance, if you are covered by the universal healthcare scheme, you can get free medical care at the hospital where you are registered. The same goes for social security beneficiaries.
Both the National Health Security Office (NHSO) and Social Security Office, which handle the universal healthcare and social security schemes respectively, have stopped providing home-isolation and “hospitel” services for COVID-19 patients.
This means patients have to show up at the hospital where they are registered if they want services. They can no longer register online and wait for help at home, and neither can they show up at the closest medical facility and expect free treatment.
The process of getting treated for COVID-19 is now the same as for any other non-emergency condition.
If you have private health insurance, you may get reimbursed according to your policy. For instance, some insurance companies provide up to 2,000 baht per outpatient visit. If your medical bill exceeds that amount, then you will have to cover the difference yourself.
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COVID-19 patients can receive free medical help from their nearest hospital – including the private ones – only if they develop severe symptoms. Severely ill patients qualify for the UCEP Plus (Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients Plus) program.
Severe symptoms include difficulty breathing, constant pain or pressure in the chest, fatigue, unconsciousness, and slow response.
Know your risks
If you are healthy and have received your COVID-19 jabs, there is a low chance of you developing severe symptoms.
However, if you have chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, or cancer, there is a much higher chance of becoming seriously ill if you catch COVID. Old age is also an additional risk.
Thailand has lost 30,739 people to COVID-19 since the disease emerged in 2020. Although the rate of deaths has dropped over the past year, more than a dozen fatalities are still being recorded each day.
Doctors have been advising people to take their booster shots to help lower the risk of severe symptoms and death. So, if you have not had your third or fourth jab, the medical advice is to get one as soon as possible. Jabs are available for free at many hospitals and health facilities.
If you test positive but have mild symptoms, you should still self-isolate because you can infect others. You should take care not to share food or personal items with others and always wear a mask when around other people.
Health authorities are still sticking with the seven-day isolation plus three-day observation regulation. This means that after seven days, those who no longer have symptoms can go out provided they keep their mask on at all times and take extra precautions to ensure they do not infect others.
By Thai PBS World’s General Desk