Of course, none of us like paying for any insurance and indeed health insurance is no different. In fact, it is one of the few things that we buy ad hope that we never need. However, not getting health insurance can be a huge mistake, leaving you and your family seriously in debt. Healthcare in Thailand is cheaper than in the West, but this should not be interpreted as being cheap. Many international hospitals such as the Bumrungrad in Bangkok and Bangkok Hospital Pattaya have state-of-the-art equipment and excellent facilities – this is expensive.
Health Insurance Requirements in Thailand
Anyone who is living in Thailand on a Non-Immigrant O-A visa (Retirement) is required to have health insurance. The minimum coverage is THB400,000 for inpatient cover and THB40,000 for outpatient cover. The insurance can be purchased in Thailand or overseas, but proof must be shown when you apply for or renew your visa.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Thailand, the government has made it compulsory for anyone entering the country to have valid health insurance. If you have a Thai work permit, you will have a cover at a local government, and this is enough to meet the legal requirements, although you may want to consider taking more comprehensive cover. At the time of writing, the coronavirus is still having a devastating effect on the country, and it is not clear if these requirements will continue after the pandemic.
Types of Insurance
The main types of insurance are inpatient cover and comprehensive cover. As the name would suggest, inpatient covers you when you are admitted to hospital but often doesn’t cover other tests and follow up treatment. It is naturally the cheapest form of cover and is a reasonable option if you have savings. Comprehensive cover is far more expensive but can take away any issue with needing to raise money for treatment. An alternative is to pay an excess or deductible to bring the costs down.
Expat or Local Insurance
There is a lot of controversy about expat and local health insurance with expat insurance generally offering far higher levels of cover but is more expensive. Often with local insurance, you are required to pay first and then claim your expenses back which can run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of baht. Also, local coverage often ends at 65, which can cause serious problems in your twilight years. Expat insurance is by far the better option, but the cost is certainly a factor.
Almost all health insurance policies will exclude pre-existing conditions. It is crucial to read the small print regarding this as some conditions such as high blood pressure can have several connected exclusions. Also, many policies will not cover pre-existing conditions even if you DON’T know about them when you take out the policy. It can leave you with a nasty shock and a bitter taste in your mouth. If this is a concern for you, you may want to consider having a medical prior to taking the policy.