Thailand is one of the top medical tourism destinations in Asia. The country’s private hospitals offer short waiting times, comfortable facilities, and an excellent standard of care. However, they are also more expensive than public hospitals. It is therefore important for expats in Thailand to purchase comprehensive health insurance, so they can make sure their medical costs are covered.
Health insurance for expats in Thailand
How does the healthcare system work in Thailand?
Healthcare in Thailand is free for Thai citizens under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) system. This coverage is also available to foreigners with resident status, but to have their health expenses covered, they must seek treatment in public facilities in their area of residence. Their choice, therefore, may be limited.
For this reason, many residents opt for private health insurance coverage, allowing them to be reimbursed if they are treated in the private sector.
> Good to know: In order to limit the increase of its national health expenses, as of 2019 Thailand requires all foreign retirees residing in the country to take out private health insurance. This is an essential condition for applying for or renewing the O-A or O-X non-immigrant visa. Their insurance plan must guarantee a minimum coverage of THB40,000 ($1,200) for outpatient care and THB400,000 ($12,000) for hospitalisation. These caps will likely significantly increase in the near future.
How to choose health insurance in Thailand: local or international?
Taking out private health insurance allows policyholders in Thailand to avoid some of the disadvantages of the country’s public system. In particular, they can choose their own health professionals and facilities and get treatment outside their area of residence, as well as access private care that is often more readily available.
> Good to know: If you are buying health insurance for the purpose of the O-A visa, it is important to select an insurance provider who is licensed in Thailand. In some cases, applicants with foreign insurance plans have been refused a visa. However, most local insurance plans have very low reimbursement levels and don’t offer coverage outside Thailand, meaning they are not always the best choice for expats either. This is why many policyholders choose to double up on their mandatory local insurance with international health insurance.