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“Do I need Thailand health insurance?”: Information for expats

If you’re relatively new to Thailand and you will be here on a long term basis, there are many important things that you should know about. Where to go for any product or service you might need, how to find the best deal on a place to stay, and how to make friends in a new land are all common issues that transplants may regularly come across. While this is true, one important item that often gets overlooked when a person moves to a new country is familiarizing their self with the local healthcare system. To be sure, Thailand has an expat friendly system of hospitals and clinics to get treatment from, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some relevant information that you should know about. What’s more, do you know whether or not you will need to pick up a private Thailand health insurance policy while you are here? Pacific Prime Thailand examines the topic here.

The Thailand healthcare system

Thailand is generally regarded as providing a great value with regardless to medical treatment. In fact, people from all around Asia and beyond make Thailand their choice for medical care simply because of the combination of excellent quality of care and a low price tag when you compare the country versus other medical tourism hotspots.

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Recent figures for annual spending on healthcare in Thailand put it at 4.3% of GDP. For residents, the Thai government has installed a system of universal health coverage for the country ever since 2002. This system is largely publicly funded, with a majority of funding coming from the government. As a result, over 95% of Thailand’s population now has access to quality affordable healthcare. The country’s Ministry of Health oversees the governance of the healthcare system nationwide.

The situation for expats

For expats in Thailand specifically, there are somewhat different considerations you should be aware of versus local nationals. For those merely travelling in Thailand, hospitals will address emergency medical treatment in a pinch. The cost of this treatment could even potentially be free depending on the care received, but in most facilities it will be expected that you will have to pay for treatment. Despite the country’s reputation for low cost healthcare, treatment at a private hospital – which is no doubt where most expats will want to receive care – could still rack up tens of thousands of baht each day just for a room and medication. This doesn’t even begin to address costs for more serious care, such as surgery.

How could Thailand health insurance help?

The biggest and most obvious way that insurance can help expats in Thailand is by covering the costs of their healthcare, which they would otherwise have to pay out-of-pocket for. This should come as no surprise to anyone, as this is the function of health insurance. However, there are still a few more facets of the international health insurance that Pacific Prime Thailand specializes in that you may be less familiar with. These include:

  • Area of coverage: As an expat, you may be able to see greater value in products and services that will cater to your needs on a global basis. As such, it’s important to recognize the difference between the average medical insurance policy and international health insurance plans. Most private Thailand health insurance, whether secured on an individual basis or provided by an employer, will only provide insurance coverage within the country. International health insurance, on the other hand, allows you to travel secure in the knowledge that no matter where in the world you go, you will have access to the best quality medical care available. Unlike with travel insurance, this coverage goes beyond just emergency medical care. International health insurance allows for both in-patient and out-patient healthcare at any hospital or clinic of your choosing.
  • Mobility: Let’s face it. Expats around the world are highly mobile people. Traveling for work and pleasure is standard, but beyond this, expatriates may be asked to uproot and move to a new country, or simply decide to return home after years abroad. When this happens, normal Thailand health insurance policies will no longer be useful. This is because they only provide coverage in a single country. However, international health insurance plans can travel with you no matter where you move to.
  • Top-up plans: Many expats in Thailand get their health insurance through their employers. This means that you – and likely your family – will have health insurance, but sometimes if you dig into the specific benefits provided by your plan you will find that it won’t be up to your standards. Perhaps the maximum benefits are too low, or there are specific treatments that are excluded from coverage that you are not comfortable with. Not to worry. In cases such as these, top-up insurance can pick up the slack in any areas an existing health insurance policy is lacking. With top-up insurance, you can add specific benefits and/or increase coverage to the level you need.

Now armed with all of the information above, hopefully you’re ready to make a decision on whether or not Thailand health insurance is right for you. Or, if you already have health insurance, you may now be thinking about looking into your policy documentation to make sure your plan is actually up to snuff. In any case, whenever you start shopping for insurance, or just have a question about Thailand healthcare or health insurance in general, the helpful professionals at Pacific Prime Thailand are always available for you.

Our staff will answer all of your questions, even if you’re not a member! What’s more, when it comes time for you to shop for insurance – whether for a top-up plan or a brand new insurance policy – Pacific Prime Thailand will provide you with a plan comparison and free price quotation! Contact us today to find out more.

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