Travel insurance plans are designed to provide travelers and expats with short-term coverage (usually one week to one year) while they are outside of their home country. If there is a medical emergency, the plan will cover medical care with the goal of seeing you repatriated to your home country.
It is important to note here that the vast majority of travel insurance plans need to be secured before you leave your home country. If you are currently living in Thailand, you will not be able to secure a travel insurance plan that covers care in Thailand.
Like many other countries in the region, Thailand has a worker and employer funded social security system in place that offers a wide range of modest benefits, including health care coverage, to all residents in Thailand. By law, every person employed in the country, including expats, are required to contribute 5% of their monthly income to cover the social security system.
Of this 5%, 1.5% is directed to medical coverage, which is then matched by both employers and the government. This in turn, allows all residents who have contributed for more than 3 out of 15 months access to free medical coverage at specific hospitals.
If you are employed and have met the contribution requirements, you will be issued a social insurance card that with an assigned hospital at which you can receive medical care - the procedure, prescribed medication, and care will be covered but extras like food, entertainment, etc. are not covered.
While this system is beneficial, it is not usually ideal for many expats, especially those who have recently moved to Thailand. The reason being that the majority of the hospitals in the social security network have few staff who can speak English at a high enough level to understand and deliver care. This makes receiving care at these locations incredibly tough for many expats.
Local private insurance
Local private insurance consists of plans that have been developed for the Thai market and are sold only in Thailand. When compared to the local plans available in many expats’ home countries, you will find that the coverage limits of local plans are usually considerably lower with strict exclusions. For example, it is not uncommon to see local plans in Thailand offering inpatient coverage of THB 2,000 per day, or outpatient/doctor visit coverage of THB 1,500.
Luckily, Thailand does have a generally lower cost of health care, which means that these limits are often enough to cover care at local clinics and lower tier international hospitals. While the quality of care at these facilities is good, like the facilities that are part of the social security network, you will struggle to find staff who speak enough English to communicate effectively.
The biggest downside to these plans, language barrier aside, is that the vast majority of local plans do not offer international coverage. Meaning, if you plan to travel home or abroad for medical care, your local insurance plan will not cover any medical care. This can be especially costly for expats and their families who travel regularly.
One important thing to be aware of with many local health insurance plans in Thailand is that some insurers may refuse to renew your plan. Pacific Prime has seen cases in the past where a client had been diagnosed with a costly ongoing disease, and when the plan came up for renewal, the insurer refused to renew, citing the risk of the disease. This does not happen with every insurer, however.
Many expats in Thailand prefer to take out international health insurance plans. These plans, offered by international insurers based around the world, provide the highest level of coverage out of any type of plan available in Thailand.
If you plan on returning home for medical care or visiting the international/luxury hospitals in Bangkok, it would be beneficial to secure an international plan. Aside from medical coverage, many international medical insurance plans also offer the ability to cover dental and optical along with wellness benefits, including health checkups.
One of the most advantageous benefits of international health insurance plans is the fact that many providers have a large network of health care providers in almost every country. This means that you can easily find quality health care that will be covered by your plan regardless of your location.
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If you are moving to Thailand, or are already living in Thailand, and are looking for the best health insurance coverage in Thailand, Pacific Prime can help. Our knowledgeable staff can help you identify and secure top international health insurance plans that meet your needs and budget. Click the button below to start the process today.