An expat guide to healthcare and health insurance in Thailand
Are you researching an expat health insurance for Thailand? It is important to find out about the local healthcare system first.
Whether you are moving to Thailand or you are already living there as an expat, read our guide on the Thai healthcare system and your different options of medical insurance for Thailand.
- Total population (2016): 68.9 million
- Gross national income per capita (PPP international $, 2017): 17,090
- Life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2016): 72/79
- Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population, 2016): 203/91
- Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2014): 600
- Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2014): 4.1
Healthcare in Thailand for expats
If you are a permanent resident in Thailand, you must subscribe to the compulsory national insurance system on the same terms as Thai nationals. Healthcare is free within the limits of the facilities in the area where the patient lives, on presentation of their universal health insurance card (gold card).
If you are not eligible for the national healthcare system or if you want to be treated in the medical facility of your choice, you will have to pay for treatment within the public sector; you would have to pay independently and then you may be reimbursed by your insurance providers if you are covered.
There is a good level of care in the Thai public sector and that is reflected in the well-being of the population: among developing countries Thailand has one of the highest life expectancy rates. However, there are disparities between medical facilities in cities and rural areas. In the event of an accident, you will be taken to the nearest hospital, and should you need to be transferred to a different hospital for medical reasons this would be your own responsibility and paid out of your own pocket. For this reason, an insurance policy including an evacuation cover is strongly recommended.
An evacuation cover takes you to the nearest centre of medical excellence for treatment but will not repatriate you once you have stabilised. Adding repatriation to your evacuation benefits would cover the costs to have you sent back to your country of residence, or country of nationality, once your condition has stabilised. (Please note that repatriation will always cover evacuation, but an evacuation only cover will not include repatriation).
Healthcare in Thailand is very “hospital-centric”. Whether you are in the private or the public sector, consultations with GPs and specialists tend to be carried out in hospitals. Doctor’s surgeries, like in the UK, are very rare. Many hospitals even have their own dental surgeries. Consequently, public hospitals are often more crowded than private hospitals.
Private hospitals in Thailand have a high quality of service, with up-to-date and ultra-modern medical equipment and technology. The staff are very efficient, and waiting times for consultations, treatments, and operations are very short.
The expatriate community tends to opt for the private sector as they are still able to get good value for money. This allows them to choose the medical centre where they wish to be treated, and many private medical centres also have international staff who speak English.
A number of the hospitals are listed on the stock exchange and are internationally recognised. Something that often surprises expatriates is the fact that so many medical centres are so modern that they seem more like luxury hotels than hospitals!
Alongside this is the fact that their prices are relatively low compared to European hospitals. For these reasons, Thailand is a popular destination for medical tourism. However, « relatively low » doesn’t mean that healthcare is cheap and getting treated can still be extremely expensive, especially for a hospitalisation. Moreover, many services require an advance payment which can be very costly. It is therefore important to have private insurance covering hospitalisation as a minimum.
International health insurance for expats in Thailand
An international health insurance for Thailand is generally a better option for expats than a local health plan. It allows you to be treated in the hospital and with the doctor of your choice, not only in Thailand but within your whole zone of cover.
If you would prefer to be treated in your country of nationality or a different country, your medical costs would be reimbursed (within the limits of the zone of cover of your chosen policy). Moreover, when you leave Thailand and decide to move to another country your expatriate health insurance may be able to follow you.
As mentioned above, it is recommended to take out insurance covering at least hospitalisation and evacuation.
If you are a permanent resident in Thailand, subscribing to an international health insurance does not exempt you from signing up to the local health care system; in this case your international health insurance would top-up your state healthcare.
Please note that expat health insurance plans are more expensive than local insurance plans. For people over 60 years, private health insurance becomes extremely expensive and international insurers don’t accept new clients over 70 years old (for some insurers, the age limit for the application is 65 years old).
What is the best health insurance for expats in Thailand?
The best health insurance in Thailand for one expat might not be the best for you as everyone has different needs and expectations.
In order to find which one is the best health insurance in Thailand for you, it is important to consider several aspects such as your medical history, your age, your specific needs in terms of medical cover, your situation in Thailand, alongside other parameters.
How much does healthcare cost in Thailand?
A consultation with a private GP or specialist will generally cost between 500 and 3,000 bahts (£12 – £72*). The price varies in relation to your condition and also the pricing of the medical centre in which you are seen.
The price of a dental crown is around 15,000 and 25,000 bahts (£360 – £600).
The cost of an overnight stay varies depending upon the type of room and the medical centre you have chosen. For a private room including basic services (nurse, meals etc) you would be billed between 3,000 and 20,000 bahts (£72 – £480). For luxury rooms, often known as “royal”, “deluxe” and “VIP” rooms, the cost would be between 20,000 and 70,000 bahts (£480- £1,675).
It is important to note that many hospitals will ask for a deposit upon your admission if you don’t have medical insurance. This deposit can be between 20,000 and 300,000 bahts (£480- £7,200) depending on your condition, the medical centre and the type of room you have chosen.
*December 2018 exchange rate
Such as with any type of health insurance, the price of a medical insurance for expats in Thailand varies greatly depending on the personal situation, the age, the medical history of each individual as well as other parameters. If you would like to have an idea of the cost of private health insurance for Thailand, we can prepare for you a personalised comparison of different international health insurance plans. Contact us today for your free health insurance comparison.
Such as with any type of health insurance, the price of a medical insurance for expats in Thailand varies greatly depending on the personal situation, the age, the medical history of each individual as well as other parameters.
If you would like to have an idea of the cost of private health insurance for Thailand, we can prepare for you a personalised comparison of different international health insurance plans. Contact us today for your free health insurance comparison.
No compulsory vaccinations are required in order to be allowed entry to the country. However, it is recommended to make sure that your vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus and polio are up-to-date. Depending on the type and length of your stay, these vaccinations are recommended: Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis B, typhoid.
Police: 191 Fire Brigade: 199 Medical Emergencies: 1669
English speaking doctors
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office state that most private hospitals in Thailand have an International Department where English speaking staff will be available to liaise with patients and their relatives.
Taking your medication with you
advises to contact your GP/healthcare professional before travelling to Thailand as some medications which are legal in the UK may not be approved for use in Thailand.
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- An immigration health surcharge for long stays in the UK - Visitors staying for more than 6 months in the UK must pay an 'Immigration Health Surcharge'. Since Brexit, European citizens are also included.