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Health Insurance for Expats in Thailand

Submitted: August 2014

Thailand is not a country where private health insurance is popular. Only about 10% of the population has it. As expats are not given much healthcare assistance by the Thai Government, private health insurance is nonetheless strongly advisable. In other words, expats are likely to be in the 10% insured privately.

Private medical insurance may be part of salary packages offered by employers in Thailand. If you are not in this situation, it is advisable to get your insurance arrangements in order as soon as possible.

Private health insurance premiums generally start at around $2,000 per year.

 

Direct billing and upfront payments

Full upfront payment is not always required, as hospitals may be happy to collect your insurance details. This will depend on your insurer though, as some insurance policies require the patient to pay first and then to apply for reimbursement.

Apart from this, you should be prepared to pay immediately if you are uninsured, or if your insurance policy does not cover you entirely.

 

Prior insurer approval

If you are going to see a doctor in Thailand, you should let your insurer know before booking an appointment. Failure to do so may result in a claim being rejected.

Check with your insurer the applicable procedure for that matter. Usually, there is no need to do this in an emergency.

 

Health and life insurance

Some Thai insurers sell health insurance in combination with life insurance. This is because such arrangements could attract tax relief before.

Should you require health insurance only, you should make sure you are not in fact going to pay for life insurance.

 

Chronic and pre-existing conditions

For expats with chronic or pre-existing conditions, it is going to be hard to find private health insurance coverage in Thailand.

In such cases, you might wish to check if you can keep health insurance coverage with the social insurance scheme of your home country, if there is any.

 

Where to apply?

There are over 30 insurers in Thailand. Reputable names include AxaPPP; Bangkok Insurance; Bupa International; Cigna International; Dhipaya Insurance; and Thai Health Insurance.

 

International cover

You should check the geographical coverage of your existing insurance policy, if you have any.

If you have a foreign policy but you haven’t been sold it as an international insurance cover specifically designed for expats, your policy is unlikely to work in Thailand. In that case, you should let your insurer know that you are moving to Thailand, and switch to an international cover. Your insurer is likely to charge you extra for this, but do bear in mind that the very fact of being insured in several countries carries an extra burden as well.

A good international cover would insure you against:

  • medical costs in Thailand
  • medical costs in your home country

If you are coming to Thailand only for a temporary visit, you probably don’t need international health insurance if you have appropriate travel insurance.

 

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