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Migrant Health Insurance Scheme In Thailand

The Migrant Health Insurance Scheme in Thailand is designed to provide health insurance for documented and undocumented migrant workers, as well as to conduct health screenings for communicable diseases. Since its creation in 2001, it has dramatically increased the number of migrants receiving care.

While the scheme has its strengths and weaknesses, the Migrant Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS) provides insurance coverage for basic medical treatments for migrants to Thailand and their dependent family members.

From the origin of the scheme, to how to apply for it, to how it works, this article will explain all you need to understand. We’ll go into detail about what it covers and what it excludes, as well as how it compares to the Universal Coverage Scheme and Social Security Schemes in Thailand.

You may also be interested in reading our articles about Health Insurance for Thailand Expats and Medical Insurance in Thailand for Retirees.

If you have any questions, please send a message to an insurance expert to clear up your confusion about anything insurance related.

Thailand’s Migrant Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS)

The Migrant Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS) in Thailand was the Kingdom’s solution to meet the growing need migrants have for healthcare treatment. Also known as the Compulsory Migrant Health Insurance Scheme (CMHI), it is a voluntary health insurance scheme for migrant workers and their dependents.

Upscale Coastal Condos In Thailand For Article On Migrant Health Insurance

The MHIS scheme is for:

  • Documented migrants working in the informal economy
  • Documented migrants working in the formal sector who aren’t covered by the social security scheme
  • Workers eligible for the social security scheme (SSS) but who are required to have health insurance for the three months before the SSS scheme kicks in

The scheme was created in 2001 by the Thai Ministry of Public Health in Thailand and it was later extended in 2005 to include coverage for the migrant workers’ dependents.

Purpose Of The Migrant Health Insurance Scheme In Thailand

Thailand is a major receiver of migrants and is home to 3.6 million workers from Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Because of their major influx of migrants eager to fill their labor shortages, Thailand faces the difficult job of providing healthcare for all of these stateless/displaced persons.

Migrant workers do not qualify for the Universal Health Coverage Scheme established in Thailand or for the Social Security Scheme, so the Migrant Health Insurance Scheme was designed to help them cover their medical costs.

Thailand found that many migrants were either opting to not get needed medical treatment or paying out of pocket for everything. It is an unfortunate truth that many migrants have poor access to health services, social protection, and are at a higher risk of exploitation.

This scheme was designed to improve their access to affordable care.

A second goal of this scheme was to screen migrants for communicable diseases they may be inadvertently bringing into the country. This was accomplished during the screening process of those applying for coverage.

How The Thailand MHIS Scheme Works

Migrants register for the Migrant Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS) in Thailand at a public hospital. Once they have purchased the health insurance scheme, they can only access healthcare services at the hospital where they registered. It is funded by an annual premium paid by the workers.

Tropical Haven Ao Nang, Thailand, Featured In Migrant Health Insurance Article

Insurance coverage lasts for one year, and under no circumstances can the insured change their designated hospital. This scheme does not grant its participants access to private hospitals.

Insured workers can be referred to a second hospital by their registered hospital if they require further treatment.

The MHIS is also known as the Compulsory Migrant Health Insurance scheme because migrant workers can only be approved for a work permit if they show proof of a:

  • Health check-up report
  • Recept of their enrollment in the Migrant Health Insurance Scheme

This means that in order to legally work, you must join the MHIS scheme.

How Thailand Migrants Apply For The MHIS Scheme

Migrants apply for the Thailand Migrant Health Insurance Scheme by registering at a public hospital. There they receive a health screening. After the screening, they are offered the generic benefits package and expected to pay the small annual premium and co-pays at each visit.

There are three types of regularized work migration into Thailand. Each of these represent the methods that migrant workers enter Thailand and their purpose for working there.

The three types of migration into Thailand are:

  1. Bilateral MoU processes with neighboring countries
  2. Border Pass employment scheme for seasonal work
  3. Nationality verification process seen through an ad hoc basis

All of these three categories are eligible to join the MHIS scheme, but only workers regularized through the national verification process can register their dependents as well.

The scheme is for both documented and undocumented migrants.

The health screening costs a small fee and includes tests for:

  • Chest x-ray
  • Tuberculosis
  • Syphilis
  • Microfilaria
  • Malaria
  • Leprosy

If any of these diseases are found, full treatment is offered. All immunizations are provided for every migrants’ dependent children.

Coverage Provided By Thailand’s Migrant Health Insurance Scheme

Thailand’s Migrant Health Insurance Scheme provides a generic benefits package to the migrant workers who register. Coverage includes annual health check ups, maternity care, dental care, child health care, and more.

Bustling Maeklong Market, Samutsongkhram, In Migrant Health Insurance Article

This is a full list of the treatments covered by Thailand’s Migrant Health Insurance Scheme:

  • Annual health check-up
  • General medical treatment (consultation, diagnosis, and treatment)
  • Maternity care
  • Rehabilitation care
  • Dental care
  • Medicines listed in the National List of Essential Medicines
  • Child health care
  • Emergency medical treatment
  • Antiviral and HIV/AIDS medications
  • Communicable disease prevention services
  • High-cost care that is in line with the conditions of the Migrant and Mother and Child Health Insurance Administrative Board
  • Comprehensive curative services
  • Antiretroviral therapy

Exclusions In Thailand’s Migrant Health Insurance Scheme

The coverage exclusions in Thailand’s Migrant Health Insurance Scheme includes a variety of surgeries, fertility treatment, drug rehabilitation, and several other medical scenarios. Migrant workers in Thailand who desire or need excluded treatments must pay out of pocket for these services.

This is a list of the medical treatments that are not covered in the Migrant Health Insurance Scheme in Thailand:

  • Various surgeries (such as organ transplant, cosmetic and/or sex reassignment surgeries)
  • Drug rehabilitation
  • Psychosis treatment
  • Fertility treatment
  • Inpatient care for more than 180 days of the same condition/disease (unless there are additional complications and/or medical conditions)
  • Renal replacement therapy

Coverage Comparison To Thailand’s Universal And Social Security Schemes

The Migrant Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS) in Thailand provides less comprehensive coverage than the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS) and Social Security Schemes (SSS) do. That being said, there is also a more detailed list of exclusions for the UCS and SSS schemes.

Daytime Beach Boat Excursion, Thailand

To see the differences in coverage provided between the Migrant Health Insurance Scheme and the schemes for Thai citizens and employees participating in social security, see the two lists below of treatments covered and excluded.

Treatments Covered

These are the treatments covered by Thailand’s Universal Coverage and Social Security Schemes:

  • General practitioner care
  • Primary care
  • Specialist care
  • Inpatient services
  • Outpatient services
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medicines on the National List of Essential Medicines 
  • Dental care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Delivery
  • Antenatal and postnatal care
  • Long term care
  • Medical devices
  • Traditional Thai medicine services or alternative medicine practices

There is a fee-for-service for high-cost healthcare, such as open-heart surgery, coronary bypass, and brain surgery.

Treatments Excluded

This is a list of the medical treatments that are not covered in Thailand’s Universal Coverage and Social Security Schemes:

  • Treatment of psychosis
  • Drug addiction treatments
  • Hospitalization for more than 180 days in a year
  • Haemodialysis
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Experimental treatments
  • Infertility treatments
  • Tissue biopsy for organ transplantation
  • Non-medically indicated procedures
  • Sex reassignment surgery
  • Reproductive surgery
  • Recovery care
  • Dental surgery
  • Glasses
  • Contact lenses

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do medications cost in Thailand without insurance?

Prescription medications in Thailand without insurance cost much less than in other countries. Bumrungrad, one pharmaceutical provider in Thailand, advertises that you’ll get savings of 93% on drugs for hepatitis C, 43% on treatments for multiple sclerosis, and 76% on drugs for rheumatoid arthritis.

Is the Migrant Health Insurance Scheme in Thailand successful?

A 2008 study interviewed participants of Thailand’s Migrant Health Insurance Scheme and revealed that the members had positive attitudes toward the program. This success was due to volunteers, who shared the migrant’s dialect and culture, that increased awareness and improved the program’s services.

What are the weaknesses of Thailand’s Migrant Health Insurance Scheme?

Thailand’s Migrant Health Insurance Scheme has weaknesses; at times the services respond poorly and migrants fear litigation by the authorities for being illegal. This decreases the number of workers who register. Also, because it’s voluntary, it’s common for healthy people to not register.


Workers who migrate to Thailand have the ability to receive health insurance, and this has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals and families. If you’re a migrant worker, you can reach out to your local Thailand public hospital for more information about registering.

If you’d like to see if you can afford access to the best private hospitals in Thailand, check out Pacific Prime’s Thailand health insurance plan. We have a free quote generator that can be customized to your specific country and the health needs of you and your dependents.

There’s no commitment required to see what a private plan might cost you, and you might just find that it’s within your budget and provides all the coverage you need!

To learn how to use this remarkable free resource, watch our tutorial video about our online quotation tool. Please feel free to reach out to a Pacific Prime insurance expert anytime about anything insurance-related. You can send us a message and we’ll email or call you back!

If you’re a worker who hasn’t yet migrated to Thailand, we recommend learning where the best places to live in Thailand are before you cross borders.

We wish you the best of luck!

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
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