Maternity health insurance and Zika in Thailand
Anyone who lives in or travels to the Land of Smiles is likely aware that mosquitoes are present in seeming abundance all year long. Yes, they can be bothersome at times, but most of them don’t pose any significant health threats. There are, however, a number of harmful mosquitoes to watch out for, chief among them being female Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes – both of which are carriers of the Zika virus.
As the virus can pose serious health consequences to infants born to Zika-infected mothers, pregnant women are advised to take extra precautions when living in or visiting regions where the virus is present. As an expat living in, or travelling to Thailand, here is what you need to know about Zika, how to keep your family safe, and maternity health insurance cover.
What is Zika?
Zika is a virus that is primarily spread through infected mosquitoes of the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus species, both of which tend to be the most active from dawn to dusk. There’s also evidence to suggest that Zika can be transmitted by other mosquitoes that belong to the Aedes genus.
Zika can also be spread via other methods, including:
- From a pregnant woman to her developing fetus, or at the time of birth if the mother is infected with the virus during pregnancy.
- Sex with someone who is infected with Zika (the virus can stay in the man’s semen for months after infection).
According to the CDC, most people infected with the virus don’t show any symptoms, or only show relatively mild ones that last for about 2 days to one week, such as:
- Muscle and joint pain
What’s the most worrying about this virus goes beyond the actual symptoms described above. Despite it usually showing mild symptoms in children, Zika infection can cause severe health risks for developing fetuses. More specifically, Zika infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly (a birth defect where the baby’s head is smaller than it should be for their age), and other congenital abnormalities such as Guillain-Barré syndrome (a serious condition that affects the nerves).
The infection can also cause pregnancy complications, e.g. fetal loss, stillbirth, and preterm birth. Finding the right maternity health insurance that covers all these complications is therefore highly advised.
Preventing Zika infection in pregnant women
Unfortunately, while Zika cases have declined recently, the virus is still endemic in Thailand, so pregnant women living in or travelling to the country should exercise strict precautions to avoid mosquito bites and sexual transmission. The good news here is that mosquito bite prevention is not difficult:
- Wearing clothing that covers as much of the body as possible (e.g. light, long sleeved clothing)
- Using physical barriers at home or in your hotel (e.g. closed windows and doors, window screens)
- Applying insect repellents that are safe for pregnant women
- Sleeping under mosquito nets
- Eliminate mosquito breeding sites (e.g. remove standing water in plant pots, throw out items that hold water)
Pregnant women should also practice safer sex by using condoms consistently and correctly, or refrain from engaging in sexual intercourse throughout the entire duration of their pregnancy. Unfortunately, no vaccine is yet available for preventing and treating Zika infection.
How maternity health insurance covers Zika
The passing of Zika virus from pregnant mothers to their fetuses can result in serious complications that require costly lifelong healthcare. The question is, will maternity health insurance plans cover the cost of care should your baby be born with conditions caused by the Zika virus?
Typically speaking, virtually every maternity health insurance plan will cover pregnant moms should they be infected with Zika. This means that should the mother become ill, visits to the doctor, tests, and treatment will be covered. That said, certain restrictions might apply, such as:
- Some insurers may exclude or decline cover for babies born with microcephaly
- If the waiting period on your maternity health insurance plan has not passed, tests for Zika and transmission to the fetus may not be covered
If you would like to learn more about your maternity health insurance options, be sure to contact a reputed insurance brokerage like Pacific Prime Thailand. Our team of advisors are on hand to help you find the best health coverage, including plans that cover care for Zika.
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