Policy options for health insurance in Thailand
This study explores the policy options for health insurance in Thailand, considering the present structure of the country and taking account of international experiences. The development of health insurance in Thailand is analysed from the supply side i.e. health services. The problem of inefficiency and inequity in the health care system has led to the search for better alternatives for organizing and financing. This coincides with the overall growth in the country's socio-economic situation and the policy of health insurance laid down in the Sixth Five Year Health Development Plan (1987-1991). These factors provide positive conditions for establishing health insurance in Thailand. The demand for health insurance from employers who are likely to join the scheme is investigated. A survey of 200 private establishments in Thailand was conducted. This investigation provides essential national baseline data for the organization of health insurance, particularly on the health care fringe benefits provided by employers, and the methods of paying health care providers. Methods of organizing health insurance are formulated from international experience. The historical development of voluntary health insurance and its modified forms, as well as that of compulsory health insurance, are examined. The arguments for and against each form of health insurance are analysed. The study also highlights salient issues of health care reforms which attract the world's attention. International experience has shown that methods of paying providers is a major issue in providing viable health insurance. The study comprehensively analyses the advantages and disadvantages of each method of paying the doctor and the hospital under health insurance systems. Finally, it explores the policy options for the future development of national health insurance in Thailand.