You’ve finally decided to make your long-awaited move to Thailand, but you’ve got no clue about the country’s healthcare and health insurance system. You know fatal road accidents and tropical diseases are common in the country, but perhaps you have no idea where to find proper healthcare services for expats.
If this describes you, you’re not alone. Most expats first arriving in Thailand are extremely unprepared for the healthcare costs in the country. That’s why we’re here to take you through the 5 most important healthcare and health insurance tips for anyone moving to Thailand.
1. Choose the right private hospital
In Thailand, private hospitals are the only realistic options for expats. That’s because healthcare services at state-run hospitals are often sub-par, under-staffed, and overcrowded.
Fortunately, quality private hospitals that cater their services to expats are easy to find. When choosing the best private hospital, you should be asking the following questions:
- Is the hospital far from where I live?
- If I’ve got specific medical needs, does the hospital offer the appropriate treatment options?
- Is there any English-speaking staff?
- How expensive are they and what’s their reputation among other expats?
In big cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket, you’ll definitely be able to find premium-quality private hospitals that address all your medical needs, such as:
- Bumrungrad International Hospital (Bangkok)
- Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital (Bangkok)
- Chiang Mai Ram Hospital (Chiang Mai)
- Bangkok Hospital Phuket (Phuket)
2. Get vaccinated for tropical diseases
In Thailand, mosquitoes present a real health risk. Not only are their bites annoyingly itchy, the diseases that are associated with them are also life-threatening. Particularly, rural areas of Thailand experience dengue, zika, and chikungunya outbreaks every monsoon season.
For this reason, you should get vaccinated for these diseases before coming to Thailand. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends getting the following vaccinations:
- Routine vaccines
- Hepatitis A
Although these diseases are no longer common in the country, the chances of infection are not zero if you are planning on traveling to a high-risk area in the country.
3. Know your emergency health services
Like most other countries, there’s a public emergency service line in Thailand. To call, simply dial 1554 for an ambulance to the nearest available hospital.
However, unlike most other western countries, emergency services in Thailand don’t always work. Sometimes the line is too busy, and other times, no one picks up.
That’s why major private hospitals throughout the country will have their own hotline and their own fleet of ambulance services ready to go. By simply visiting the websites of these major hospitals, you’ll find their emergency hotline that will deliver an ambulance right to your doorstep.
Whether you’re calling an ambulance service or simply visiting the hospital for a doctor’s appointment, the medical bills can be extremely expensive in private hospitals. That’s why you’ll need expat individual health insurance in Thailand to help you reduce out-of-pocket payments each time you visit the hospital.
The next two steps will show you how you can find the most cost-effective private health insurance available in Thailand.
4. Compare the best health insurance options available
The health insurance industry in Thailand is expansive, and there are plenty of plans to choose from. Since many expats are spending their golden years in the country, there are countless retiree health insurance plans available, as well as family health insurance plans for those looking to start their families in Thailand.
For this reason, by effectively comparing the best health insurance plans available, you will guarantee yourself with a plan that truly addresses your medical needs.
With that said, you should be looking at these 5 factors when comparing health insurance plans:
- Premiums: Choose a premium price that fits your budget. This doesn’t mean simply opting for the cheapest option, as cheap premiums are likely not indicative of the best health insurance cover.
- Renewability: Many local health insurance plans in Thailand do not offer lifetime renewability. This means that once you reach a certain age, or if you’ve developed a chronic disease, your insurer may deny your plan’s renewal and leave you vulnerable to hefty medical bills.
- Insurer reputation: Check the insurer’s reputation for claims reimbursement time, stable premium increases, and customer service quality. This will ensure that you won’t run into any disputes or complications with your insurer in the future.
- Provider networks: See if the hospital you plan on visiting regularly is part of the insurer’s network of providers. If this isn’t the case, then you won’t have access to direct billing services, meaning that you’ll have to go through the hassle of filing claims manually each time you visit the hospital.
- Benefits coverage and exclusions: Finally, you should check the policy’s benefits coverage and exclusions to see whether it addresses your medical needs. If treatment for your chronic condition is excluded from the plan’s coverage, it may not be the right plan for you.
There are plenty of other factors you should also consider, such as co-payments, deductible options, and add-on possibilities. Comparing health insurance can be an extremely time-consuming and daunting task, so in the final tip, we’ll tell you how you can fast-track the health insurance comparison process.
5. Fast-track your health insurance comparison process
In Thailand, navigating through the health insurance landscape can be difficult, as many local insurers do not gear their services for expats. Hence, the best way to fast-track your health insurance comparison process is with the help of a health insurance expert like Pacific Prime.
By using their innovative quote comparison tool, you’ll have access to the best health insurance plans in a matter of minutes. This will fast-track your plan comparison process and save you hours or even days of exhausting health insurance research.
Pacific Prime is a trusted industry leader when it comes to delivering private health insurance solutions to expats in Thailand. If you’ve got any other questions about healthcare and health insurance in the Land of Smiles, be sure to contact the team at Pacific Prime for a free consultation and price-comparison quote.