Buying health insurance in Thailand as a foreigner may seem quite daunting at first. Insurance policies can seem complicated and hard to understand, you may feel uncertain about what coverage you need, and even finding a trustworthy insurance provider can prove stressful.
However, if you are staying or living in Thailand long-term, you will eventually need to visit a doctor or hospital. Having a solid ex-pat health insurance plan in place will make these visits easy and straightforward.
What You’ll Learn in this Article:
- What Are Your Healthcare Needs?
- What Additional Health Insurance Benefits Do You Require?
- What Should You Look For When Comparing Thailand Health Insurance Policies?
- How Can You Lower Your Health Insurance Premium?
- Where Can You Compare Expat Health Insurance In Thailand?
The cost of medical care in Thailand is much lower than in many western countries. Despite this, if you are uninsured and require major surgery or extensive medical care the costs add up quickly.
Uninsured foreigners can use public or government hospitals in Thailand where bills are much lower than private facilities. However, the levels of comfort in government hospitals are also significantly lower than the well-equipped, modern facilities found in private hospitals.
Deciding to protect yourself and your family by purchasing expat health insurance is a great first step. Now, you need to navigate the Thai insurance minefield to get the best deal and coverage.
If you need more information, you can check out our extensive guide about expat insurance in Thailand which provides everything you need to know about buying foreigner insurance in the country.
Below, we have listed five of the most important factors to consider when buying ex-pat health insurance in Thailand.
1. Basic Coverage Vs Extensive Coverage
There are two main options when buying health insurance from a local Thai insurance company – basic coverage and extensive coverage.
When deciding which one is most suited to your needs, you should consider whether you require in-patient coverage (staying overnight in the hospital), out-patient coverage (seeing a doctor), or both.
For example, if you or your family regularly visit the hospital to see a doctor and get medication, out-patient coverage should feature high on your list of priorities. This will ensure you are covered every time you visit the hospital for minor concerns that do not require overnight stays.
However, if you rarely visit the doctor and only require health insurance for major accidents or medical treatments, basic expat health insurance with in-patient coverage may meet your requirements.
There are a couple of other factors to consider when deciding if you need basic coverage or extensive coverage:
What Are Your Pre-Existing Conditions?
Pre-existing conditions can have a significant impact on the health insurance you are qualified to buy, particularly when it comes to local Thai health insurance plans for foreigners.
If you have or had some form of illness or major surgery, such as asthma or heart surgery, you will generally find these conditions are excluded from your health insurance plan.
Therefore, you need to carefully consider whether you will use the health insurance policy to cover these pre-existing conditions or not.
If you require coverage for pre-existing conditions, it is still possible to get an insurance policy, but you may need to negotiate specific terms and additional premiums.
Hospitals and Doctors – Do You Have A Preference?
If you live outside of Bangkok, you may have a preferred private hospital that you want your health insurance policy to cover. Most insurance providers in Thailand have relationships with particular hospitals, so make sure your chosen provider can cover you in your preferred hospital.
Similarly, you may want a particular doctor or specialist covered in your health insurance plan. Again, confirm with your chosen insurance provider that they can cover your visits to your chosen doctor.
If you visit a hospital, facility, specialist, or doctor outside of the network specified by your insurance provider, you may become liable to pay a portion of the fees.
2. Additional Expat Health Insurance Benefits
Once you have formulated a general idea about the health insurance coverage you require, you should consider any extra or additional benefits that you want your insurance policy to cover.
Benefits can vary drastically between insurance providers in Thailand with some companies offering benefits as part of standard plans while other offer benefits as add-ons with additional premiums.
If you decided that you only require basic, in-patient health insurance coverage, you may want to find an insurance provider that offers the benefit of coverage outside of Thailand.
Additional benefits can include more comprehensive coverage for hospitals across Thailand and coverage for specific needs or vaccinations.
It is also worth checking whether your health insurance plan covers any illness caused by COVID-19. Many Thai insurance providers now include COVID insurance coverage with health insurance plans, including vaccinations against the virus.
Other additional benefits you may consider for your expat health insurance plan include:
- Global insurance coverage if you travel frequently
- Regular health check-ups or screenings with your local doctor
- Insurance coverage for maternity care
- Dental work and treatments
- Optical and eye treatments and surgeries
- Insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions
3. Important Factors When Examining Foreigner Health Insurance Policies
There are many factors to consider when looking at expat health insurance quotes and policies. Understanding some of the most important factors can help you when comparing offers from various Thai insurance providers.
When examining foreigner health insurance policies, you should look out for the following:
- Cost – While it is easy to simply choose the least expensive health insurance quote, price does not always indicate value.
- Renewals – Be careful when reading the small print regarding health insurance renewals. Many Thai insurance providers do not offer lifetime renewability and insert clauses giving them the right to refuse renewal if your health deteriorates or you use the insurance too frequently.
- Reputation – Do some research on the insurance provider. Have other expats used their health insurance policies? What were their experiences?
- Hospital Coverage – Make sure you find out which hospitals and doctors are covered in the insurance provider’s network. If an insurance provider only covers a hospital that is two hours away, you should consider finding a policy that covers your local facility.
- Claims – Ask the insurance provider how long it takes to make a claim. Many health insurance policies will cover you and pay for treatments before you leave the hospital so you don’t pay a single baht.
These are some of the major considerations when looking through a health insurance quote or policy. You may have some other requirements also, so make sure you explicitly ask your insurance provider to get clear answers before buying the insurance plan.
4. Try to Lower Your Premium
We all want the cheapest possible health insurance premium. For the majority of buyers, the cost of an expat health insurance plan is the deciding factor.
One way to reduce the premium for a health insurance plan is to adjust your deductible. A deductible is an initial payment you make for any treatments before the health insurance policy covers the remainder.
If you have a higher deductible, you can significantly lower the premiums of your health insurance plan. However, you should exercise caution and ensure that you can afford to pay the deductible if you require healthcare or treatment.
5. Compare Top Ex-Pat Health Insurance Providers
The absolute best way to find ex-pat health insurance in Thailand is to compare as many insurance providers as possible and get the best quote from each.
Going around to every insurance company one by one requires a significant amount of time and is incredibly tedious.
However, there are foreigner health insurance comparison services that help you to find the best quotes in one place, making life much easier when seeking a health insurance plan.
We highly recommend Mister Prakan as they are designed specifically for expats in Thailand and partner with all major Thai insurance providers.
You can now go out and buy expat health insurance in Thailand with confidence! Have you already bought health insurance in Thailand? Do you have any other tips for foreigners buying health insurance? Please let us know in the comments below!