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Does Thailand Accept US Medicare Health Insurance?

Thailand does not accept US Medicare health insurance. This has little to do with Thailand and more to do with the United States. Medicare itself will not provide coverage outside of the US and its territories, so tourists and expats should secure insurance elsewhere before entering Thailand.

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There are a few exceptions to Medicare’s rule against providing coverage outside of the US, and we will explain those in this article. We will also provide some information about alternative health insurance options for Americans who are moving to Thailand or visiting for a time.

Getting health insurance as a Thailand expat can be a very daunting task, so that’s why Pacific Prime is here to make it easier. With over 20 years of experience as an international insurance brokerage, we know how to get you what you need at a price you can afford.

And today, we will jump into the topic of US Medicare and its alternatives in Thailand.

Will Thailand Take US Medicare Health Insurance?

Thailand will not accept US Medicare health insurance because the US doesn’t support coverage outside of its lands, save for a few situations. Instead, if you’re a US citizen, expat, or digital nomad traveling or living in Thailand, you should secure private insurance for the duration of your stay. 

Chiang Rai, Thailand - Medicare Coverage Query

Because the US doesn’t provide Medicare coverage outside of its borders, Medicare’s reach is usually limited to:

  • The 50 states
  • The District of Columbia
  • Puerto Rico
  • The US Virgin Islands
  • Guam
  • American Samoa
  • The Northern Mariana Islands

What Is Medicare?

Medicare is health insurance provided to US Citizens over the age of 65 by the US government. Individuals under age 65 with certain disabilities can also qualify for Medicare coverage. Usually, these disabilities must be severe enough to make you unable to work for at least a year.

Medicare is also for individuals with End-Stage Renal Disease.

There are three parts to Medicare coverage, so here’s a breakdown of each:

  1. Hospital Insurance: This covers the fees for care given during admitted hospitalization, in a nursing facility, in hospice, or at home. 
  2. Medical Insurance: This covers the fees for doctor services, outpatient treatment, medical equipment, and preventative care.
  3. Prescription Drug Coverage: This covers the fees for prescription medications, including many vaccines.

When Is Medicare Accepted Outside The USA?

In rare instances, Medicare may be accepted outside of the USA if your situation falls into one of three approved categories. If your need is approved, Medicare may pay for inpatient hospital care, an emergency ambulance, and doctor services immediately before and during your initial hospital stay.

The three approved medical situations when Medicare will provide coverage outside of the USA are:

  1. If you’re in the United States and have a medical emergency, but a foreign hospital is closer than a US hospital
  2. If you’re traveling between Alaska and another US state and have a medical emergency and the nearest hospital is in Canada instead of the US
  3. If you live in the United States and a foreign hospital is closer to your home than any hospital in the US (in this scenario, it doesn’t matter if your care is for a medical emergency or not)

In each of these situations, Medicare only covers care performed in a foreign hospital.

Because of the nature of these scenarios, US Medicare will not cover health costs in Thailand.

Other Health Insurance Options For Senior Expats In Thailand

US senior expats, retirees, and individuals with severe disabilities can secure either public or private health insurance for the time they are touring or living in Thailand. Public insurance is part of Thailand’s social security scheme, and private insurance is offered by private companies.

Krabi's Ao Thalane - Medicare Inquiry

Public Health Insurance In Thailand

Public health insurance in Thailand is part of the country’s universal healthcare system. Employed individuals in Thailand, including expats, pay monthly into a social security scheme that grants them subsidized public healthcare. This covers basic healthcare treatments and checkups.

Public facilities in larger cities offer sufficient healthcare, but facilities in rural areas may not have access to enough equipment, higher-trained professionals, or employees who speak English. For this reason, expats generally prefer to have private insurance that allows them to use private hospitals and clinics.

Private Health Insurance In Thailand

Private health insurance in Thailand can be secured through health insurance companies and brokers. With private insurance, expats and digital nomads can seek care in the top-notch hospitals and clinics in Thailand that have the best equipment and highly trained, English-speaking professionals.

Private health insurance in Thailand can cover:

  • Inpatient and outpatient care
  • Vision care
  • Dental care
  • Maternity care
  • Medical evacuation
  • Travel Insurance
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • And so much more!

To discover a range of what your specific healthcare needs may cost for insurance, get a free quote today so you can get an idea of what to expect.

Public Vs. Private Hospitals In Thailand

Public hospitals in Thailand are cheaper than private hospitals, but they often have longer wait times, lower quality facilities and equipment, and may not have English-speaking medical professionals. For this reason, most expats in Thailand prefer higher-quality private hospitals.

Private hospitals in Thailand are excellent for expats and digital nomads because they have shorter wait times, more international physicians that speak English and other languages, elevated standards of service, and more access to the newest medical technology.

Some of the best private hospitals in Thailand can be found in:

  • Bangkok
  • Chiang Mai
  • Phuket
  • Pattaya
  • Koh Samui
  • Hua Hin

As you discover the best places for expats to live in Thailand, you’ll want to be aware of how closely they relate to where private hospitals are. This can improve your ability to get to the best healthcare fast, which is particularly important if you are among the elderly.

If you are an American who qualifies for Medicare because of your age and are moving to or living in Thailand, we recommend reading these articles to help you find the right insurance:

  • Expat Senior Health Insurance in Thailand
  • Medical Insurance in Thailand for Retirees

And of course, Pacific Prime is here to help! Asking us questions is always free!

Pacific Prime Private Health Insurance

Pacific Prime is an award-winning health insurance intermediary that empowers our clients by connecting them with the best insurance providers available. We help our clients make informed decisions that are within their budget so they can secure coverage throughout their international travels.

Ko Samui's Laem Sor Pagoda - Medicare Coverage Query.

As a broker, we provide unbiased advice about what type of insurance plan you should invest in to guarantee you have the coverage you need in your unique circumstance. We partner with top-tier insurers and act as an intermediary between you and them to negotiate the best deals for our clients.

By hiring us to do your dirty work, you add twenty years of experience with international healthcare to your team!

Here are some things our clients have to say about partnering with us as we mold their insurance plans:

  • “I liked the speed, the detailed yet concise information about the insurance plan that was recommended for my family, and of course the price.”
  • “Very flexible, knowledgeable, fast, polite, happy to discuss over the phone and regularly doing the follow-up.”
  • “Service, manner, and advice was some of the best that I have received since I have lived overseas. If I find myself in needing medical insurance in the future I will not hesitate in contacting you.”

Check out our health insurance plans and get a free quote today! You won’t lose anything by acquiring more information, and you just might find exactly what you’re looking for.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Medicare pay for prescription drugs outside of the United States?

Medicare will not cover prescription drugs or medications outside of the United States. You must contact your drug plan if you’d like to learn more.

Who does Medicare provide coverage for?

Medicare provides health coverage for US citizens over the age of 65, individuals with severe disabilities, and individuals who have ESRD, or End-Stage Renal Disease. Medicare is not Medicaid which provides coverage for low-income families, children, pregnant women, and those with disabilities.

In what countries outside of the US can you use Medicare?

Medicare cannot be used outside of the United States to cover medical expenses. It only provides coverage within the 50 US states and 6 territories which include, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, The US Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and The Northern Mariana Islands.

Are there exceptions when Medicare works outside of the US?

There are three exceptions when Medicare will work outside of the US: if you’re in the US and a foreign hospital is closer than a US hospital, if you’re traveling between Alaska and another US state and the nearest hospital is in Canada, and if you live in the US and a foreign hospital is closer.

Does Thailand have Medicare for seniors?

Thailand does not have Medicare for seniors since Medicare is a program established in the United States for US citizens. However, there is health insurance in Thailand for seniors and retirees that support them in their elderly years and during the years when they are not working.

What is an insurance broker compared to an agent?

An insurance broker is hired by a consumer to negotiate on their behalf with multiple insurance companies until they find an insurance policy and company that the consumer wants. An insurance agent represents a single insurance company and presents their policies to consumers.

Conclusion

You’ve now learned all about why US Medicare will not provide you with health coverage while in Thailand. On the flip side, you have several tools in your toolbox with suggestions about where you can find private health insurance to make sure your health is covered.

We highly recommend contacting an insurance expert today to discuss with them your questions, concerns, and curiosities. Here at Pacific Prime, we are more than happy to give you free information and direction as you enter the confusing world of international healthcare systems.

If this article was helpful, we also suggest reading about Thailand Prescription Medication Costs Without Insurance and Health Insurance for Americans in Thailand.

Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Serena Fung is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, a global insurance brokerage and employee specialist serving over 1.5 million clients in 15 offices across the world. With 2+ years of experience writing about the subject, she aims to demystify the world of insurance for readers with the latest updates, guides and articles on the blog.

Serena earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. As such, she is an avid advocate of mental health and is fascinated by all things psychology (especially if it’s cognitive psychology!).

Her previous work experience includes teaching toddlers to read, writing for a travel/wellness online magazine, and then a business news blog. These combined experiences give her the skills and insights she needs to explain complex ideas in a succinct way. Being the daughter of an immigrant and a traveler herself, she is passionate about educating expats and digital nomads on travel and international health insurance.
Serena Fung