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Dual pricing at Thai public hospitals and the implications on foreigners

Dual pricing at public hospitals is now legal and foreigners are likely to feel the full force of Thailand’s new law, which enforces a fee structure for locals and foreigners. The former Public Health Minister, Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, announced on August 30th, the introduction of the new law which will come into effect on September 30th.

Despite the first impressions, the new pricing structure may well be a confident and positive step forward, as it regulates and clarifies hospital fees for medical procedures in public hospitals under the provision of the Ministry of Public Health.

In this article by Pacific Prime Thailand, we will divulge the latest law governed by the Public Health Ministry and discuss the benefits of foreigners securing private medical insurance in Thailand.

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3 tier-based approach to medical charges in Thai public health facilities

The new dispensation will allow Thai hospitals under the Ministry of Public Health to charge a prescribed limit for medical services based on a 3 tiered system approach. Operators and Thai hospitals will have to set the 3 tiers themselves and then submit to the Ministry of Public Health to finalize. These 3 tiers are explained below:

Tier 1

Under the new regulations, the first tier price structure is specific for Thai citizens and those from neighboring countries, such as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar, will pay relatively the same for medical procedures.

Tier 2

The second tier price structure will be applied to expatriates, namely foreigners in Thailand, who are working and paying taxes with the appropriate visas.

Tier 3

The third tier of charges and the highest in terms fees will apply to retirees and tourists.

Dual prices for treatments

According to reports from local news sources, the tier 1 cost for a spinal MRI examination will cost 18,700 baht. This cost increases up to 23,375 baht for tier 2 expats, and even higher to 28,050 baht for retirees and tourists.

An HIV test in Thailand will cost 160 baht if the patient is Thai or an individual that falls within the tier 1 category. The cost of the test rises up to 240 baht for working expatriates and doubles up to 320 baht for retirees and tourists.

For many years, Thailand’s expat community have been more or less sensitive to the ways in which public healthcare institutions across Thailand have set their prices. However, the new law coming into effect will make this dual policy legal and official. The overall benefit is standardization and better regulations across the country’s public health system.

Strict regulation and compliance applied across the public health system

The law forces all public hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities that form the public health system to report to the permanent secretary at the Department of Public Health on their charges. The aim is to establish transparency and liability from health providers on the fees being charged and ensure they are in line across the country.

Additionally, the new law offers clarity and certainty to foreigners while still offering health care prices that are a fraction of those seen in more developed countries.

The cost of treatment is still cheaper when ranked with other countries

In reality, Thailand is still perceived as a cheaper alternative for medical healthcare than its western counterparts like the US and Switzerland, and also nearby Hong Kong and Singapore. However, as most foreigners and medical tourists that travel to Thailand will have experienced over the years, healthcare inflation has seen costs of treatment and services rise.

Secure private health insurance to offset the rising healthcare costs

At Pacific Prime Thailand, we understand fully the implications faced by foreigners that have to pay a higher price for healthcare treatments compared to Thai locals within a public health institution.

For foreigners, such as expatriates and their families that want to avoid the rising cost of treatment which is perceived unfair for many, the best decision would be to secure comprehensive health insurance.

In many ways, securing private health insurance gives foreign individuals the certainty that they will receive care no matter what, where or when, but also that medical treatment will not place a financial burden on them.

Out-of-pocket costs can be substantially high as experienced by travelers and tourists that failed to secure health insurance during their visit and travels in Thailand in the past.

The benefits of securing private health insurance include:

  • Little to no wait times,
  • A selection of reputable private hospitals and doctors,
  • Excellent medical facilities and state-of-the-art equipment,
  • Access to a private hospital room,
  • Efficient billing service,
  • And many more.

Speak to our advisors at Pacific Prime Thailand for more information on health plans

Our advisors provide impartial advice and can help you make comparisons between different plans. On top of our offerings as a broker, we can negotiate for the best health insurance plan on your behalf, specifically tailored to you and your family’s needs.

For further information, you are welcome to check out the latest from our blog page or refer to our health insurance plan page.

Also, our guides and reports may benefit you in the long run and help keep you informed on the trends like the State of Health Insurance in Thailand.

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Thailand
Jimmy is a content writer who helps simplify insurance for readers interested in international private medical insurance. He is on a mission in Thailand to support locals, expatriates, and businesses by bring the latest news and updates to his Pacific Prime blog articles.

His expert view and wealth of knowledge on insurance can also be found in his blogs for China, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.