Do You Need Health Insurance in Thailand?
Absolutely! Whether you are traveling to Thailand as a tourist for a few days or weeks, or living or working in Thailand as an expat, health insurance is a necessity. Unlike some western countries, many GPs are located inside hospitals which is where you will need to go for almost every check-up, appointment, and treatment.
The costs of visiting a doctor in Thailand can vary dramatically depending on which type of hospital you visit. Broadly speaking, there are public hospitals and private hospitals across Thailand. However, the reality is that within those categories are a wide range of prices, services, and quality.
As a foreigner in Thailand the cost of any form of medical treatment can vary significantly depending on the hospital you visit. If the case is an emergency and you are collected by an ambulance, you may not have a choice about which hospital you visit. This is because ambulance drivers in Thailand who are freelance generally have “deals” with particular hospitals to receive a greater commission.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to have a solid health insurance plan while in Thailand. This way, you don’t need to worry constantly about medical costs and can enjoy the top-quality service that private Thai hospitals have to offer if you fall ill at any time.
Public or Government Hospitals
While public or government hospitals are generally clean and in good condition, they may not provide the level of service that one would expect. For example, most staff in public hospitals will not speak English, particularly outside of Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and other major tourist destinations.
Besides, while the charges are significantly lower when compared to private hospitals, the total can still add up if you are being treated for a significant injury or illness. Expats without health insurance could find it very difficult to navigate public hospitals and may generally be dissatisfied with the overall experience.
There is no shortage of private hospitals across Thailand, with the standards in these facilities making Thailand a world-famous destination for medical tourism. The quality of care in private hospitals is unrivaled, even when compared to western counterparts.
You will find the staff in private facilities can speak good English and will directly take care of the bills with your insurance provider so you don’t need to worry about anything. While very costly, private hospitals are the go-to places for foreigners with health insurance in Thailand.
Thailand Health Insurance Options
There is a variety of options available for travelers, tourists, and ex-pats seeking health or medical insurance in Thailand. The type of insurance most suitable for you could depend on your length of stay in Thailand, medical history, in-stay and out-stay options, whether you want insurance for your family and numerous other options. The primary types of health insurance for foreigners are:
Travel or Tourism Insurance
This option is obviously most suited to people who are coming to Thailand for a short time. Ideally, you should have insurance before arriving in Thailand either from your local health insurance provider or from a Thai insurance agent. It is highly recommended to choose a plan that covers private hospitals.
*Note: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, all travelers to Thailand must have health insurance with a premium of at least $100,000 (USD) coverage for COVID-19.
Local Thai Health Insurance for Tourists and Expats
A very affordable way to get health insurance coverage, whether visiting for a short period or living in Thailand, is to opt for local health insurance plans. These plans are very affordable with a low monthly or yearly payment.
However, the drawback to local Thai insurance plans is that you will find the coverage is very low. For instance, some cheap insurance plans in Thailand will only pay up to 2,000 Thai baht (around USD 60). The chances are any treatment, particularly after a major incident can run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of Thai baht.
Even if you go to a local or government hospital, the bill will often exceed the coverage of affordable local Thai insurance plans. Should you decide to go for a local health insurance option, make sure you read and understand the coverage completely to know exactly what coverage you have.
International and Major Company Health Insurance
The most desired option for health insurance in Thailand is to choose an international insurance provider or a major company that offers reliable and trusted health insurance in Thailand. Generally, these health insurance plans will offer you and your family high coverage to pay the full bill for any visits to private Thai hospitals.
You can also find health insurance brokers who work with a network of private hospitals within Thailand to provide excellent coverage at reasonable rates so long as you visit a private hospital within their network.
The best method of choosing international or major company health insurance is to use an insurance broker in Thailand or a comparison website where you can look into several options and plans before making a decision.
Ensuring You Get the Best Insurance Deal in Thailand
In the case of travelers or tourists, the chances are you will already have insurance that covers you in Thailand. If you have health insurance or travel insurance in your home country, call your insurance provider before you leave and check that you are covered in Thailand.
If you aren’t covered by your current insurance provider, ask them about the costs of insuring you on your trip. In all likelihood, your current insurance provider will give you the best deal as you are already a paying customer.
However, if you are already in Thailand, either as a tourist who forgot about insurance or as an expat, using your home health insurance provider generally isn’t an option.
Therefore, you will need to look into local health insurance options in Thailand either by contacting insurance providers directly or by using a local Thai insurance broker.
If you have the time and energy, searching and comparing health insurance plans from providers in Thailand is a great option. You can fill in the short questionnaires about your personal details and medical history and receive plan options to compare.
However, for many, this option is too time-consuming and so they choose a local Thai health insurance broker. In Thailand is very popular for insurance agents to sell plans on behalf of one or several health insurance providers for a commission.
Contacting an insurance agent in Thailand will help you get the best deal for your current situation and budget. Just make sure you are always honest when answering questions about your medical history and existing conditions!