Expat Health Insurance in Thailand
Aside from a holiday, or retirement, plenty of people still travel to Thailand annually. Many of them choose to stay for quite some time! These are known as expatriates (expats). The term ‘expat’ simply refers to someone who chooses to reside in a country that is not their country of birth/citizenship.
Every year thousands of people from all over the world move to Thailand. These people will typically move under one of any number of visas. These "non-immigrant" and "special" visas are typically issued for those who are coming to Thailand for:
To get an expat visa you need to meet the minimum requirements as laid out by the Thai government for your particular visa-we won’t go into that too much here as these are wildly different for each one. But, one thing remains the same... You are going to need to be insured.
Currently, the Kingdom of Thailand is not so strict on health insurance for expats in general. Retired persons are required to have retirement health insurance (as mentioned above), but general expat visas are not under such strict laws. However, having insurance is always a great idea.
In Thailand, medical care is not covered for those who are not native-born/citizens. This means that everyone else needs to pay the cost of any care received within Thailand. This can be covered by your insurance, or else paid for out of pocket. Now, medical care in Thailand is much cheaper than it would be in the United States. But it still isn’t cheap!
So, this is the primary reason for having expat medical insurance in Thailand. You need to cover yourself in the event of an accident or illness!
Expat Medical Insurance vs. Travel Insurance
One mistake that many expats make when moving to Thailand is maintaining the wrong insurance. Or, rather, keeping themselves underinsured. You see, many expats come to Thailand on holiday. They then decide to extend that stay and apply for a more permanent visa.
This means that many expats come into Thailand with nothing more than their traveler’s insurance. This is a type of insurance usually provided through your financial institution--such as your credit card company. Traveler’s insurance is great, but it is very limited.
With traveler’s insurance, you are generally covered for small emergencies or immediate danger situations. This includes:
- Lost or stolen property
- Delayed travel
- Emergency medical care
- Short-term hospital says
If you find yourself in a quick bind, traveler’s insurance can come in handy. But for someone who has permanently relocated to Thailand, it isn’t going to cut it. You see, for times when you need more comprehensive coverage, you are going to be out of luck without a fully-fledged insurance policy.
Expat insurance coverage can help you in much more common scenarios--as well as more serious ones! For example:
- Prolonged medical care coverage
- Prolonged stays within a hospital
- Medications and treatments
- Cost of transportation to and from the hospital via ambulance or other medical transport
If you find yourself very sick with a serious illness, you are going to need real medical insurance to cover your treatment. That is why it is crucial to have it as an expat living in Thailand permanently.
Types of Medical Insurance for Expats in Thailand
As mentioned above a few times, the cost of medical care in Thailand is rapidly rising. Some extensive procedures can cost in excess of 1.3 million Baht ($42,000 USD). This means that those without insurance are going to be left devastated if an unforeseen medical issue arises.
Luckily, getting medical insurance as an expat in Thailand is pretty simple. You have a whole host of options available to you. You can choose to purchase domestic insurance options or go with foreign options if you are more comfortable. Your insurance from your home country may even cover you in Thailand already!
There are just a few things to consider when you are purchasing insurance as an expat in Thailand.
Before you Buy Expat Insurance in Thailand
Before you purchase an insurance policy you should sit down and carefully think about how much you are going to need this. Of course, everyone wants to believe they are invincible--but the truth is much harsher in reality. However, it is true that not everyone needs insurance as badly as some others.
If you have a pre-existing condition, you likely need a more comprehensive coverage policy than someone who is in good health. If you are active in dangerous sports you are going to want a fair bit more coverage as well.
In essence, you should sit down and really think about how much you need this coverage. It’s always best to shoot a bit higher than you think you might need. Insurance is the one thing we all should buy, and hope we never use!
Thailand Expat Insurance Benefits
The second thing to consider is the benefits you are paying for. Most insurance providers will offer varying degrees of coverage based on the plan that you purchase. You should be familiar with these before you sign the dotted line!
Take the time to review if the insurance covers areas that you may need in the future, such as:
- Maternity leave
- Extended hospital stays and boarding fees
- Optical and dental care
- International coverage in case you go on a holiday elsewhere
- Regular checkups
- Physical therapy
These are things that you should be looking into just in case. You never know when the need for more comprehensive medical insurance will arise, and it’s always good to have it on hand!
Thailand Expat Insurance Cost
Finally, you should always compare the costs of multiple different insurance providers. This is to help you get the absolute best deal possible. You never want to buy the first policy you find, only to find out that another provider has the same coverage for less!
As always, it’s impossible to estimate the monthly cost of your insurance. This will depend on a host of factors, much like we discussed above. However, you can bet that the cost will be at around 35,000 Baht per year at a minimum ($1,200 USD).
This may seem like a lot for an expat living abroad, but it is absolutely worth the cost in the long run! If you are already living on a tight budget, you could be devastated by an unforeseen medical emergency without healthcare!
As you can see medical care and health insurance are crucial to any foreigner traveling to Thailand. You should always consider the worst-case scenario, even if it isn’t fun to do so. Traveling to Thailand with your medical care covered is not only a legal obligation, it’s a downright good idea!