Healthcare for Thailand Expats
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The Truth About Healthcare in Thailand for Expats

If you are thinking of moving to Thailand, one of the most important things to research is the healthcare system. How does it compare to your home country? What are your options if you need medical treatment? In this blog post, we will explore the truth about healthcare for Thailand ex-pats.

By law, everyone who works in Thailand as an ex-pat must have health or medical insurance. Most people choose private health insurance, which lets them get high-quality care at a variety of private facilities without having to worry about extra costs at the last minute.

Key Takeaways

  • The Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS) is a national health insurance program that ensures all citizens have access to free public healthcare services through the Ministry of Public Health. 
  • Private health cover gives you access to a wider choice of hospitals and doctors, which means you have more options when it comes to choosing where to receive treatment.
  • Public health insurance programs are dependent upon federal and state funding, which fluctuates. Changes in funding may affect the ability of public health insurance programs to deliver high-quality care.
Healthcare for Thailand Expats

How Thailand’s Healthcare System Works for Expats

There are a number of reasons why foreigners in Thailand should strongly consider purchasing medical insurance. Surgery or cancer treatments, for example, can be exorbitantly expensive at a top-notch hospital and quickly put a huge strain on your finances, despite the fact that hospital treatment in Thailand is cheap by Western, particularly American, standards.

Most people are aware of the importance of having health insurance, but many don’t realize that an international health insurance plan is just as important. If you’re traveling outside of your home country, your regular health insurance policy may not provide coverage.

An international health insurance plan will protect you in case of an emergency, whether it’s a sudden illness or an accident. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re covered no matter what happens while you’re away from home.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to think about when selecting a policy, especially since retired ex-pats need to provide proof of health insurance to be eligible for annual retirement extensions.

Should You Go with Foreign or Thai Insurance Policy?

Depending on your country of origin, you may already have adequate travel or medical insurance when you first arrive in Thailand. Long-term non-immigrant O-A visa applicants must provide proof of health insurance covering at least 40,000 Baht ($1340) in outpatient care and 400,000 Baht ($13,400) in inpatient care before their visa applications can be processed.

You are free to purchase this policy from any insurance carrier, whether it is based in your home country or in Thailand. However, if you plan on purchasing a new policy before you travel to Thailand, you should know that it will need to be from an approved Thai insurance company in order to obtain your yearly extension at an immigration office in Thailand.

There are many factors to consider when deciding between a foreign insurance policy and a Thai insurance policy, but the most important thing to remember is that you should always go with the one that’s right for you.

Here are some things you should think about:

Do you have family members who live in Thailand? If so, it may make sense to get coverage through Thai insurance policies because they’re often more affordable than foreign ones.

Are you planning on spending a lot of time outside of Thailand? If so, then it may make sense to get coverage through a foreign insurance policy because it will cover any injuries or illnesses that occur while traveling abroad.

Do you have health issues that aren’t covered by Thai insurance policies? If so, then going with an international plan is probably your best bet because they often offer more comprehensive coverage than local ones do (although this may not be true for all conditions).

If on the other hand, you’re living overseas and want some coverage in Thailand while traveling or visiting friends and family there (or vice versa), then getting a foreign insurance policy might be a good choice for your situation. Foreign insurance policies offer more benefits than those offered by Thai policies because they usually have more options available as well as higher limits on what can be covered under each type of plan offered by each provider offering these types of policies

Why Expats Should Consider Getting Health Insurance Coverage

1. You’ll be provided a more quality medical service

If you will have ex-pat health insurance, you will have better medical care coverage. There are also many specialized doctors who only practice in foreign countries but not in their own country because the pay offered by foreign hospitals or clinics are higher than what they can get from local institutions or companies. You will also have access to better equipment when you get health insurance coverage.

2. It includes your family

The ex-pat who lives in Thailand is eligible for health insurance coverage that includes their family members. The family members can be of either Thai or foreign nationalities, and the coverage extends to anyone who has been listed as a dependent on their tax form. This also means that if you are a single parent with kids, all of your children will be covered under your policy.

3. You can select a hospital, doctor, and medical service

Expats can select hospitals, doctors, and medical services as they want. They can choose their own doctors and hospitals and can get the best treatment for their health problems. The expatriate will be covered by the insurance company for any medical expenses incurred during their stay in Thailand.

Are Public Hospitals in Thailand Good?

When it comes to healthcare, Thailand generally has a high standard, especially for those who can afford more expensive options. There are many excellent hospitals in Thailand’s major cities, but medical facilities outside of these urban hubs may not be up to international standards.

Pros of public health insurance 

1. The government is a non-profit organization

The goal of the government is to promote the general welfare of its citizens. This means that the government will focus on providing services that are beneficial to society as a whole, rather than those that only benefit a small portion of people.

This is especially important when it comes to health care because many people have access to healthcare and medical resources they would not otherwise have access to if they were paying out of pocket or through private insurance plans from companies.

When you’re paying out of pocket for healthcare, you’ll likely look for cheaper options whenever possible. If you have a private health insurance plan, it’s likely that your insurance company will encourage you to go with cheaper options as well because they don’t want to spend too much money on your medical bills.

However, when the government provides universal health care coverage, they don’t have those same kinds of pressures placed on them. They can provide better quality care at lower costs because they aren’t interested in making money off their customers’ health issues like private companies are.

2. Administrative cost is lower

Public health insurance needs less administrative expenses because it is provided by the government, which is more efficient and effective than private companies.

Government agencies have more resources than private companies, so they can provide better services at a lower cost. Unlike private companies which have to make profits for their shareholders, they need higher premiums to cover their costs.

3. A better bargaining power

Public health insurance plans can negotiate lower rates with doctors and hospitals than private plans can. This means that they’re able to provide better care at lower costs than private insurers can provide on their own.

Cons of public health insurance 

1. Unable to financially sustain their levels of service

The financial sustainability of public health insurance programs is important to their success of these programs. Public health insurance programs are dependent upon federal and state funding, which fluctuates. Changes in funding may affect the ability of public health insurance programs to deliver high-quality care.

In addition, public health insurance programs must contend with a variety of external factors that can affect their ability to deliver high-quality care. This is because public health insurance is funded by taxpayers, and the government cannot afford to provide services at a level that would be sustainable in the long run.

2. Doctors fear they would be paid lower rates

This is due in part to how doctors are paid. Instead of being paid a flat rate for each service provided, doctors are reimbursed at rates determined by the government. The rates can be low and are often below what they would charge if they were providing services privately.

Private Health Insurance in Thailand

Private health insurance in Thailand offers you and your family access to high-quality care at a range of top-quality hospitals and medical centers in Thailand.

Pros of private health insurance

1. More health cover and choice

Private health cover gives you access to a wider choice of hospitals and doctors, which means you have more options when it comes to choosing where to receive treatment. You can also expect better service from private facilities, as they are not subject to waiting lists or long wait times like public hospitals.

More choice means better value for money when it comes to your health insurance policy. You will be able to select from a range of different plans and features that suit your needs and budget.

2. Top-quality treatment

Private health insurance will allow you to choose your own doctor and hospital. In Thailand, the medical services are very good but it’s not always easy to find a specialist or get an appointment with one. Private health insurance will help ensure that you have access to the best healthcare in Thailand.

Cons of private health insurance

1. Expensive

Many expatriates have private health insurance in Thailand, but this can be quite expensive. Aside from that, the cost of private health insurance in Thailand depends on the type of policy you choose and the level of coverage you require.

There are many different companies that offer private health insurance in Thailand, so you should shop around before making a purchase. Many ex-pats who have private health insurance in Thailand are satisfied with their policies, but others have had problems with claims and customer service.

2. Lack of transparency

 Private health insurance companies often do not make it clear how they will reimburse claims, if at all. Many have hidden clauses and exclusions that can result in patients paying out-of-pocket for some services, even when they have private health insurance.

What Does Health Insurance in Thailand Cover?

Thai Public Health Insurance Coverage

1. Medical examination and care

The medical examination and care include a whole body check-up and medical treatment when you are sick or injured. 

2. Hospitalization

This coverage covers hospitalization expenses if you have a medical condition, the need for treatment and surgery, or are injured. The policy covers hospital stays and outpatient services, which include surgery and other procedures.

3. Prescription drugs

Prescription drug coverage is designed to provide insured patients with access to a wide range of medications at affordable prices, regardless of their social status or financial situation. This means that everyone who is insured can receive the treatment they need without having to worry about the cost involved.

4. Fees for an ambulance

The government provides a subsidy for ambulance services, and it is therefore much cheaper than an emergency room visit or an urgent care clinic visit for the same conditions.

5. Rehabilitation

The rehabilitation benefits cover the treatment of chronic disease, disability, and injury to enable the patient to regain his/her ability to lead a normal life.

This type of insurance coverage is not only for those who are disabled or injured, but also for those who have a chronic disease such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure.

6. Nursing care

It is a very important service that helps people who need nursing care to recover from illness, injury, or surgery.

Healthcare for Thailand Expats

Thai Private Health Insurance Coverage

1. Medical care

It provides 24-hour emergency assistance service to its members, as well as many other benefits such as free consultations with specialists and a wide variety of health check-ups.

2. Prescription medicine

The cost of prescription medicine is paid by the insurance company in the event of illness or injury. In Thailand, prescription medicine can be bought at pharmacies and hospitals with a doctor’s prescription.

3. Ambulance expenses

As a part of your private health insurance, you will be covered for ambulance service when you need it. This means that you will not have to pay out-of-pocket expenses for this service if they are covered by your policy. The ambulance will take you to the nearest hospital and then handle all the administrative paperwork for you.

4. Maternity

Maternity benefits are available for both single and multiple pregnancies, including twins and triplets. This includes coverage for a cesarean section delivery if medically necessary.

5. Hospitalization

Private health insurance covers hospitalization fees, doctors’ fees, and medical costs.

Cost of Health Insurance in Thailand 

The annual premium for International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) for an American expat in Thailand is about $2,000, while the annual premium for an IPMI policy for a family is about $10,000. You should keep in mind that this sum incorporates premiums for a wide range of plans, levels of coverage, and age ranges.

Thailand’s best international health insurance plans for ex-pats

Best Health Insurance in Thailand for US Citizens 

William Russell is one of the leading global insurers, providing excellent service and benefits to their policyholders. They have a strong presence throughout Southeast Asia, ensuring that you can get treatment in Thailand or any of the adjacent countries. William Russell offers a wide variety of plans and coverage options, so you can find the perfect fit for your needs

The GeoBlue Xplorer plan is a great option for US citizens living in Thailand. It provides access to the world-renowned Blue Cross and Blue Shield network of medical professionals and facilities, as well as many other great benefits. The GeoBlue Xplorer plan is an excellent choice for anyone looking for excellent coverage and service.

It might be difficult for you to obtain coverage under the local healthcare system in Thailand if you are a retired ex-pat living there. The vast majority of local insurers do not cover senior citizens or do not offer them insurance policies. In this scenario, having international health insurance to cover your medical expenses is the most prudent course of action to take.

Joining Thai Social Security as an Expat

Thai Social Security is a compulsory national health insurance scheme that provides medical services to eligible Thai citizens and foreign residents, including expatriates. The scheme covers medical expenses such as hospitalization, outpatient treatment, maternity care, and preventive medicine.

However, you must be employed by a company registered with the Labor Department or have a business license to become eligible for Thai social security. 

Other Factors to Consider

Pharmacies and medicine in Thailand

Pharmacy chains like Boots, Healthy Max, and Drug Square Limited have branches all over the country. These chains are well known for their high-quality products and service, but they may be more expensive than local pharmacies.

Local pharmacies on the other hand can be found on most street corners in Thailand, and they tend to be cheaper than chain stores. 

Health hazards in Thailand

Thailand is a great place to live, work, and retire. In fact, it’s one of the most popular destinations for ex-pats. But there are some health hazards that ex-pats should be aware of when they move to Thailand. Some of these common health hazards are:

  • Dengue fever and Malaria – are mosquito-borne tropical diseases that can be fatal. They are common in rural areas during the rainy season (roughly May to October). 
  • Hepatitis A – is a viral infection of the liver, caused by the hepatitis A virus. It’s spread through contaminated food or water, contact with an infected person, sexual contact, or sharing needles during drug use. Hepatitis A isn’t contagious until symptoms appear.
  • Leptospirosis – is a bacterial disease that can cause a wide range of symptoms. It’s transmitted through water or soil that has been contaminated with animal urine.

The bacteria can infect humans, animals, and plants. Leptospirosis is most common in tropical and subtropical climates where the environment supports rats and other rodents.

Emergency services in Thailand

If you find yourself in an emergency situation in Thailand, it is important to know the correct numbers to call for help. The number for Thailand’s local emergency service is 1669, and the number for Thailand’s emergency service that is dedicated to helping foreigners in the country is 1155. 

Please note that the operators of the state’s emergency services do not speak English. However, private ambulance services are more likely to cater to expatriates than public ones because the personnel at private healthcare facilities are usually fluent in English. 

In addition, it is important to keep in mind that the country has not yet reached its full potential in terms of the development of emergency transport amenities. Therefore, it is possible that it will be more expedient for ex-pats to travel to those conveniences on their own. 

The level of traffic congestion in urban areas presents a significant barrier to the response times for emergency situations. We hope this information is helpful to you and that you never have need of it.

COVID-19 Insurance in Thailand

Thailand is a beautiful country that has a lot to offer visitors. However, during times of pandemic, the Thai government has implemented a new requirement for all travelers entering Thailand, which stipulates that they must have insurance that covers COVID-19 treatment. 

This insurance is known as Covid insurance, and it is a form of health insurance. When leaving their home country and entering Thailand, all visitors from other countries are required to present a valid health insurance policy that has a minimum insured amount of 10,000 US dollars and covers both outpatient and inpatient treatment for the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

This requirement is in place in order to protect both the visitors and the citizens of Thailand, and it is essential for anyone planning on traveling to Thailand during a time of the pandemic.

Healthcare for Thailand Expats FAQs

Am I Eligible for Public Insurance in Thailand If I Am Self-Employed?

Self-employment can be a great way to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of being your own boss. However, it also comes with some risks, including the lack of social security coverage. In Thailand, self-employed individuals are also eligible for coverage under the social security scheme if they enroll voluntarily and pay their premiums. This coverage includes medical benefits, disability payments, and survivor’s benefits. Enrolling in the scheme is a good way to protect yourself and your family in case of an accident or illness. 

Is healthcare free in Thailand for foreigners?

Thai healthcare is world-renowned and it is free for foreigners who are employed in the country. The Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS) provides free public healthcare through the Ministry of Public Health. Expats working in Thailand are covered by the UCS and their contribution to the scheme is deducted from their salary

Do I need health insurance to retire in Thailand?

Beginning October 31, 2019, foreigners entering Thailand on retirement visas (O-A) will have to buy adequate health insurance.

Can I use Medicare in Thailand?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Medicare does not cover medical care provided outside of the United States.

What is the best hospital in Thailand?

Thailand is renowned for its medical tourism, and Bumrungrad International Hospital is the best in the country, according to Newsweek’s World’s Best Hospitals 2022 list.

Conclusion

No one ever expects to get sick or injured when they travel, but unfortunately, it happens. And when it does, it can be expensive. That’s why we always recommend having comprehensive health insurance for Thailand, so you can relax and enjoy your time in the country knowing that you’re covered if anything should happen. Plus, with our newsletter subscription, you’ll have access to all the latest information about living in Thailand, so you can make the most of your time here. So what are you waiting for? Subscribe today!

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