If you have moved to Thailand, you can rest assured that you will be well taken care of for any medical emergencies that may arise. The healthcare system, as well as public health insurance in Thailand, are both of excellent quality.
And for those who wish to avoid waiting times, and have access to a more seamless healthcare experience, the private sector of Thai medical insurance is always an option. This type of health insurance is different from the Thailand travel insurance which covers tourists and visitors only for travel-related events.
Expat Health Insurance in Thailand
Expats in Thailand have the following options for health insurance, depending on their residential status:
- Public Thailand health insurance for working expats. Expats who are employed in Thailand are enrolled in the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS), which provides free healthcare through contributions that are deducted from the employee’s salary.
- Private health insurance. Expats who are not employed or those who want health coverage in private hospitals can purchase a private medical insurance scheme, either local or international. Expats who retire in Thailand will have to subscribe to a private insurance plan or pay the costs from their own pocket. You can find international health insurance for Thailand through Insubuy or International Citizens Insurance.
Public Health Insurance in Thailand
Working expats in Thailand have access to free public healthcare through contributions to the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS). All workers in Thailand (expat or citizen) contribute 5% of their salaries into the Thai social security scheme, which then covers the public Thailand health insurance network.
As an expat, once you are enrolled in the public healthcare system, you will be assigned to a hospital, in which you will receive free treatment. If you go to another hospital or decide to receive private healthcare, you will have to pay out-of-pocket.
Benefits of public health insurance in Thailand
- If you receive treatment into your assigned hospital, you do not have to pay anything. You can just show your Social Security Number and ID.
- Medical services are of good quality since the doctors in public hospitals are highly skilled.
- You do not need to pay anything extra, as it is covered by your contributions to social security.
Drawbacks of public health insurance in Thailand
- Like in all public hospitals, the waiting times can be long and the hospitals crowded, so that means a short visit.
- Treatment is limited only into the hospital you are assigned to. If a preferred doctor does now work at your assigned hospital, you do not have coverage for a medical examination with them.
- If you lose your job, you will no longer have free healthcare.
Private Health Insurance in Thailand
Expats in Thailand who are not eligible for public health insurance or who want a wider range of coverage can purchase private health insurance. If you get a private insurance plan for Thailand, you can receive treatment in any public or private hospitals. You will usually have to pay the cost of treatment upfront and then apply for reimbursement.
There are two main options when it comes to purchasing medical insurance for Thailand:
- Purchasing a domestic plan. In this case, the coverage is limited only within Thai borders, and you will not be covered for any medical emergencies abroad.
- Purchasing an international health insurance plan. You will have health coverage not only in Thailand but in other countries within the scope of your policy as well, for example, if you are travelling back to your home country or going on a vacation. You can purchase international insurance for Thailand (also known as expat medical insurance) from insurance brokers such as Insubuy or International Citizens Insurance, which allow you to browse different plans and companies to choose one that suits your needs.
Private healthcare in Thailand is of excellent quality. In fact, Thailand is considered a top destination for medical tourism due to its private hospitals, which can sometimes resemble a five-star hotel more than a medical facility.
Additionally, despite the high quality of care, treatment in a Thai private hospital does not cost as much as in certain Western countries such as the US, hence, the rise of medical tourism in Thailand. Still, private medical treatment is considerably higher than public healthcare.
Private hospitals also have shorter waiting times, are generally better equipped, and have a higher number of English speaking doctors and staff.
What Does Health Insurance in Thailand Cover?
The coverage of your medical insurance plan in Thailand depends on whether it is private or public. Under the public (social security) scheme, you will have comprehensive coverage for most medical procedures and prescription medication. With a private insurance plan, you can choose and customize the amount of coverage you need.
Thai Public Health Insurance Coverage
Thailand’s public medical insurance covers for:
- Medical examination and treatment
- Prescription medicine
- Ambulance fees
- Health promotion
- Nursing care
- Lab work and X-rays
It is entirely free of charge if undertaken on the assigned public hospital. In cases of emergencies, you can receive treatment in another public hospital, pay upfront, and then you will be reimbursed by Social Security.
Additionally, you will be covered for maternity and sickness leave:
- For maternity, you will receive 50% of your salary for up to 90 days after birth. Only extends to your second pregnancy.
- For sickness leave, you will receive 50% of your salary for up to 180 days total per year beyond the “sick days” your employer provides. For more serious illness, such as cancer, this can be extended to 356 days.
The public medical insurance scheme is Thailand only covers a certain amount for dental expenses, which is usually only enough to cover checkups and minor procedures. For any more serious dental interventions, you will either have to pay yourself or purchase a private health insurance plan with dental coverage.
Thai Private Health Insurance Coverage
Private health insurance plans (domestic and international) offer also coverage for medical treatment, prescription medication, ambulance fees, maternity, and hospitalization, among others. The upgrade is that you can seek treatment in either public or private hospitals in Thailand, as well as have the opportunity to choose your own medical professionals.
In addition, international health insurance companies also cover emergency evacuation or repatriation. Let’s say you are an American expat, living in Thailand, and you wish to receive medical treatment in a hospital back in the US. An international health insurance plan will cover the cost of evacuation, whereas a domestic insurance company will not.
Another matter of importance which concerns expat retirees in Thailand is that many domestic insurance companies will exclude coverage or not sell their policies to senior citizens.
So, What’s the Best Health Insurance for Thailand?
The best type of health insurance for Thailand will depend on your needs and preferences. A combination of both your public social security insurance and an additional private insurance scheme should cover you for any emergencies that can happen, and ensure you are comfortable and well taken care of.
- Public insurance: If you do not want the extra cost added, have no problem waiting for a doctor appointment, and are generally healthy, then you can easily carry on with your public insurance scheme. Public healthcare in Thailand is not bad by any means. The doctors are skilled and trained, and its public healthcare system is considered as one of the best in the world, featured on the 2019 list of countries with the best healthcare systems, according to Thai media.
- Domestic private insurance: If you want more convenience, the freedom to choose your own doctors and hospitals, a better experience if you need to receive medical treatment, and you do not mind the extra cost, then you should opt for Thai private health insurance. However, this may not be useful for retirees, as many companies exclude coverage for persons over the age of 65.
- International health insurance: If you want a wider range of health insurance, not only in Thailand but abroad as well, then you can choose a comprehensive international health insurance plan, which is often the best insurance plan for expats who tend to travel between their country of residence and their home country. You can choose the best Thai health insurance by browsing through different plans online, via online marketplaces such as International Citizens Insurance or Insubuy which allow for easy comparison.
Cost of Health Insurance in Thailand
There are several factors which affect the cost of a health insurance policy, including:
- Your age. Senior citizens usually have to pay more for medical insurance than the younger generations.
- The amount of coverage you want. The good thing about private insurance is that you can customize and choose how much coverage you want or need. The more coverage, the pricier the policy.
- How many people are included in your plan. If you add your family members, then the monthly premiums will be higher.
- Whether you choose a domestic or international plan.
Public health insurance, on the other hand, depends on your income. You do not need to pay anything additionally, since the money is taken directly from your salary in the form of social security contributions (5% of the salary).
Am I Eligible for Public Insurance in Thailand If I Am Self-Employed?
Self-employed individuals are also eligible for coverage under the social security scheme if they enroll voluntarily and pay their premium.