Why You Need Expat Insurance When Living in Thailand

Being an ex-pat in Thailand can be a very rewarding experience. There is always something new to discover, whether it’s visiting one of the many historical and cultural attractions or exploring local night markets for the best Thai street food. One thing you will notice is that most people living in Thailand are expats. 

While living abroad can be a lot of fun, it’s important to make sure you have proper insurance coverage in case anything unexpected happens. Expat insurance is specifically designed for foreigners who live outside their home country on either a permanent or long-term basis (usually for at least 180 days). 

It covers medical care costs that aren’t typically covered by basic Medicare plans like hospitalization expenses due to illness/injury or emergency transportation services from accident scenes if needed.

Most Expats are on Basic Medicare

Basic Medicare, which is the Thai version of Medicaid, covers basic medical costs for those who can demonstrate that they don’t have any other insurance. 

Many ex-pats are eligible for this program since their employer doesn’t offer health benefits—or covers only part of the cost- to them. If you are on Basic Medicare and need a referral from your doctor before seeing another specialist or getting an MRI, this can be troublesome because sometimes you will have to wait weeks or even months while your request is reviewed by various departments within the Thai government bureaucracy (and often rejected).

A better choice might be a private plan through one of several companies that provide ex-pat insurance in Thailand. These plans usually cover some basic services like routine checkups at a clinic or medications prescribed by an onsite doctor. 

However, they generally do not cover surgery or any long-term illnesses such as cancer treatment unless it’s considered an emergency and needs immediate attention beyond what’s available at local clinics/hospitals (which may also require prior approval from Medicare).

Health Insurance doesn’t Cover Everything

Health insurance is not a substitute for travel insurance, so if you want to make sure that you’re covered in case of a medical emergency or accident, it’s worth getting both.

Health care in Thailand is more advanced than it used to be, but it still doesn’t compare with what’s available in many other countries. For example:

  • The cost of medical treatment in Thailand is generally higher than in Western countries. So even if your health insurance covers some basic expenses (like drugs), you may run into quite a high bill at the end of the month.
  • Some treatments that are considered routine in Western countries are considered elective surgery/procedures and thus excluded from coverage under most health insurance plans—including cosmetic surgery and dental work.*

Premiums are Extremely Affordable

You’ll be amazed when you see how affordable health insurance premiums are in Thailand, especially if you compare them to other countries.

You can find a policy that fits your needs easily and pay a nominal amount every month. For example, if you want basic coverage for just an average annual fee of around $1,000-USD 5,000 per year (depending on the type of policy), this is what some providers offer:

  • Health Screening Tests: You will receive one free round of tests every year so that we can monitor your overall health status. These include: Blood Test; Liver Function Test; Diabetes Test; Cholesterol Test; Thyroid Function Test; Urinalysis/Kidney Function Test (Urine); CT Scan (Abdomen); Endoscope(Mouth) X-ray Film(Lower GI).

Stay Protected While Travelling Abroad

If you’re planning to travel abroad, then it’s important to have a good travel insurance plan. A good travel insurance policy will protect you from situations like getting sick or injured while traveling, losing your passport or luggage, having an unexpected death in the family, and more.

Traveling abroad can be exciting but also scary. 

Many things can happen while on the road such as getting sick or injured and needing medical treatment, losing valuable personal items (such as money), and having family emergencies back home. 

If these things were to happen while traveling alone without any type of coverage plan then it would be difficult for someone who does not live in Thailand full time with limited resources available here such as local hospitals staffed by doctors who speak English fluently (or at all).

What to Consider When Choosing a Health Insurance Policy in Thailand

Once you’ve got a general idea of what kind of health insurance policy you’re looking for, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty details. Here are some things to consider:

  • Is this policy going to cover any pre-existing conditions?
  • Are there any restrictions on foreign hospitals or locations?
  • What are some of the procedures that are covered? (for example, many policies cover major surgeries and organ transplants but not cosmetic surgeries)
  • Can I see a specialist if I’m not feeling well? If so, how quickly can I get in for an appointment with them?
  • How much will it cost me if something happens while traveling abroad (like getting sick or getting injured)?

It’s important to find out exactly what your insurance covers.

Knowing what your insurance covers before you buy it can help you avoid some unpleasant surprises. It’s also a good idea to find out exactly what your insurance policy covers, as well as what it doesn’t cover. If a friend of yours has lived in Thailand for some time, they may be able to tell you what kind of problems they’ve had with their own insurance company.


You can save a fortune on healthcare and live a healthy life by moving to Thailand—but only if you get ex-pat insurance. For more information about your health insurance options as an ex-pat in Thailand, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our experts are here to help.

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About Melody Rose

Melody is a former insurance agent turned blogger. She writes about insurance options and immigration issues in Thailand, giving advice to foreigners and ex-pats around the country.

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