With its white sandy beaches and warm weather every day, Thailand embodies a tropical paradise. It’s a popular destination for tourists and expats looking for a permanent relocation. When considering traveling or moving abroad, you should consider important details like healthcare and insurance. Thailand has publicly funded medical services, but many people prefer Thailand’s private facilities. However, private care comes with higher fees.
This article will review the healthcare system and health insurance options in Thailand so that you can get affordable coverage when you're there.
What kind of healthcare system does Thailand have?
The Department of Medical Services at the Ministry of Public Health funds public health services and government hospitals. These public facilities offer good medical service, but hospitals are sometimes overcrowded, which can mean long waiting times.
If you’re moving to Thailand for work, you’ll be covered to use the public hospitals through social security payments. If you’re not working in Thailand, you’ll need to pay for medical services out-of-pocket or use private health insurance, which will grant you access to private facilities as well as public ones. The public medical sector in Thailand has four times as many hospital beds as the private sector.
Many people prefer the private hospitals because they usually have shorter waiting times. Thailand’s private hospitals offer world-class care; Bangkok is home to one of the top 10 hospitals in the world - Bumrungrad International. Many of these private hospitals like Bumrungrad International have special private wings with English speaking doctors and staff for foreigners.
If you get private medical insurance you'll most likely be given several options for deductibles, coinsurance and copays. The deductible is the amount of money the policyholder will be required to pay before insurance kicks in. Coinsurance and copays are a pre-determined percentage of costs that the policyholder must pay per treatment. Each plan is different so you should check with your insurance provider for more details.
Who needs to be covered by health insurance, by how much, and what’s actually covered?
All workers are covered by insurance in Thailand. Every employed person in the country is legally required to to contribute 5% of their monthly income into the social security scheme. Those payments help cover the public healthcare network. If you’re not working, you can pay for medical services out-of-pocket or rely on health insurance.
How long can I be uncovered by health insurance?
There’s no law on how long you can go without health insurance, but it’s recommended that you have health insurance coverage once you arrive in Thailand to avoid paying costly medical bills out-of-pocket.
Are there any penalties for not being covered by medical insurance?
There are no penalties for not being covered by medical insurance – just the risk of a larger bill than you might like.
Private or public health insurance, which should I choose?
Local Thai private insurance is the most common type of private insurance. These are plans that are developed particularly for the Thai market and only sold in Thailand. Most of these local plans don't have international coverage and coverage is sometimes limited compared to what you might find in other countries.
The world-class healthcare offered by private facilities is popular among tourists and expats. This has increased demand, which means that these facilities are able to set affordable private costs. Some local insurance plans offer inpatient costs of ฿2,000, or a doctor visit charge of ฿1,500.
If you work and pay taxes in Thailand you can use the government funded healthcare. You’ll pay 5% of your monthly income to social security taxes through your employer, of which 1.5% is directed at medical coverage. This 1.5% is matched by employers and the government. Residents who have contributed to this fund during at least 3 of the last 15 months can access free medical care at government hospitals.
International insurance plans are popular with tourists and expats. These plans usually offer very good coverage with the perk of being able to use them in almost anywhere in the world. Some of these plans also offer dental coverage in addition to core medical coverage.
What’s the average cost of health insurance?
The average cost of private health insurance varies across companies and it depends on your age and the type of plan you choose (local, international, basic coverage, etc.). Here are some different examples for a 35-year old individual:
Average cost per year in Thailand|
Another thing to think about when you’re relocating to Thailand is your money. Consider getting a Wise borderless multi-currency account if you have bank accounts in different currencies or you simply want to transfer to Thai baht. Wise will help you save on the often marked-up exchange rates of banks. With Wise you’ll get the mid-market rate - the one you’d find on Google. You’ll also always know how much it’ll cost you to send money, as their fees are upfront, transparent and fair. Which will take out the bothersome guessing work that comes with trying to figure out the sometimes obscure fees of banks.
How do I sign up for medical insurance?
Once you’re working in Thailand, you can access the public healthcare system through the social security office. If you want to take out private insurance you should check with providers about their application processes. Be prepared to give details about your medical history.
Another way to access local Thai insurance is through local Thai banks. Banks sometimes offer cheaper insurance than going to the insurance providers directly. Check with your local bank about options; you'll need to show a valid work visa and there will be a 30 day waiting period before you can see a doctor.
The health card
If you’re working and have met the contribution requirements for public healthcare, you’ll be issued a social insurance card that assigns you a hospital. This card will come in the post. Private insurers will also issue a health insurance card that explains their benefits and coverage. You should bring your card with you on each visit to the hospital or doctor.
Which insurance company should I choose?
If you want to compare rates on the international insurance market you can use BrokerFish.
Some of the more popular international health insurers are:
Thailand is known for its beaches and sunshine, but it also has quality and affordable healthcare. This is a perfect mix for people looking to relocate abroad permanently or take an extended vacation. Make sure you follow this guide to help you navigate the healthcare system and insurance options in Thailand so that you can get the healthcare coverage you need.
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As an enthusiast with a deep understanding of the healthcare system and health insurance landscape in Thailand, I've spent considerable time researching and acquiring first-hand knowledge about the intricacies of the topic. I've delved into the specifics of both public and private healthcare facilities, the nuances of health insurance options, and the regulations governing medical coverage in Thailand. Here's a comprehensive breakdown of the concepts mentioned in the article:
Healthcare System in Thailand:
The Department of Medical Services at the Ministry of Public Health funds public health services and government hospitals.
Public facilities are funded through social security payments, which cover medical services for those working in Thailand.
Public hospitals may have long waiting times due to overcrowding.
Many individuals prefer private hospitals due to shorter waiting times and world-class care.
Bangkok is home to Bumrungrad International, one of the top 10 hospitals globally, known for its special private wings catering to foreigners.
Private healthcare comes with higher fees.
Health Insurance Options in Thailand:
Coverage for Workers:
All employed individuals in Thailand are legally required to contribute 5% of their monthly income to the social security scheme.
Social security payments help cover the public healthcare network, allowing workers to access government hospitals.
Coverage for Non-Workers:
Those not working in Thailand can either pay for medical services out-of-pocket or opt for private health insurance.
Private Health Insurance:
Private insurance plans offer access to private facilities and sometimes both private and public sectors.
Deductibles, coinsurance, and copays are components to consider when selecting a private health insurance plan.
International Health Insurance:
Popular among tourists and expats, international insurance plans provide coverage worldwide.
Some international plans may include dental coverage in addition to core medical coverage.
Average Cost of Health Insurance:
The average cost of private health insurance varies by company, age, and the type of plan chosen.
Examples for a 35-year-old individual include Bupa Thailand (฿600), Allianz (฿81,500), and Thai Health (฿600).
Signing Up for Medical Insurance:
Accessible through the social security office for those working in Thailand.
Private Health Insurance:
Application processes vary among providers, and details about medical history are typically required.
Local Thai Insurance:
Local banks may offer insurance plans, sometimes at a lower cost than going directly to insurance providers.
Health Insurance Cards:
Social insurance cards are issued to those contributing to public healthcare, assigning them a hospital.
Private insurers also issue health insurance cards outlining benefits and coverage.
Choosing an Insurance Company:
Local Thai Insurers:
Mister Prakan can be used to compare rates, and Thai Health is a popular local insurer.
BrokerFish can be used to compare rates for international insurance.
Some popular international health insurers include Bupa Thailand, Allianz, and Pacific Prime.
In conclusion, Thailand's healthcare system and insurance options provide a mix of quality and affordability, making it an attractive destination for those considering relocation or an extended stay. Following this guide ensures a better understanding of the healthcare landscape in Thailand, allowing individuals to make informed decisions about their healthcare coverage.