BANGKOK — Foreigners suspected of having the coronavirus or diagnosed with it are supposed to be eligible for free treatment. But no one knows what happened to the funds.
An internal document obtained by Khaosod English shows a comprehensive free medical treatment for foreigners in cases related to the virus was approved by the Comptroller General’s Department as late as seven days ago, yet inquiries to the health ministry on Wednesday revealed the agency has yet to receive the money.
“We’re still waiting for the money. We don’t know where the money is,” an official who works in the ministry’s financial office said, while refusing to give her name. “We haven’t been able to give anyone this service yet, because we haven’t received any money.”
Ministry spokesman Rungrueng Kitphati said that he was unaware of the matter.
Government officials previously maintained that uninsured foreigners in Thailand must pay for coronavirus treatment and other fees out of their own pockets.
Yet the document signed by Comptroller General Phumisak Aranyakasemsuk on March 11 said the state must pay the costs for foreigners’ testing, treatment, and any other medical operations related to the coronavirus if they are uninsured.
Even in the cases of insured foreign patients, the state must pick up any extra bills not covered by their insurance, according to the document, which was addressed to the Ministry of Public Health.
When reached for comment, an official working in the legal office at the department confirmed the payment was already approved by the time the document was sent. He referred all inquiries to the health ministry.
Another official at the Comptroller General Department also said any inquiries about the money must be made to the health ministry.
Comptroller General Department is tasked with auditing and overseeing financial transactions that involve state coffers.
Additional reporting Teeranai Charuvastra