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International Expat Insurance in Thailand

The Kingdom of Thailand is a stunning South East Asian country that attracts expats from all over the world. Whether that is for work purposes or retirement it is easy to understand why.

Here’s what the Kingdom has to offer for expats and why international expat insurance in Thailand is something that every foreigner living here must put in place.

Originally known as Siam, Thailand is a stunning and diverse country. When it comes to a unique mixture of traditional and modern it is hard to beat. While it continuously looks to the future in terms of national and international business it still retains a fierce pride in its rich heritage and history.

Located in the centre of mainland SouthEast Asia its ecosystems are wide and varied. You will find mountainous and hilly forested areas on its northern frontier, central plains filled with fertile rice fields, a broad plateau to the northeast, and rugged coastlines along its narrow southern peninsula.

In terms of size, Thailand is no shrinking violet, with a total size of 513,120 km2 it is the 50th largest country in the world and shares borders with Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia.

It is little wonder that visitors flock to this tropical Kingdom. It really does have something for everyone. The towering mountains in the far north make Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai mystical journeys that give a real sense of tradition. Travel way down south and you encounter beach resorts and islands that many see as paradise.

A great choice for working and retired expats

If variety is the spice of life then Thailand gives it. Experiencing what the capital Bangkok has to offer is where most working expats begin their journey.

As for retirees who choose to live in the Kingdom, options are many because an annual retirement visa can be applied for from the age of 50. This encourages many foreigners to take advantage of the easygoing, cost-effective lifestyle offered.

Expat retirees certainly do not restrict themselves to living in Bangkok. Other popular destinations for expats include the historic and calm setting of Chiang Mai with its numerous temples and world-famous night market.

Phuket and Koh Samui provide island living with beautiful beaches and an international holiday feel. Then there is Hua Hin with its long stretch of beach and the Royal family’s traditional summer palace.

You then have Pattaya which is famed for its nightlife and entertainment venues. The northeastern region of Isaan should also not be forgotten as this is where a good number of expatriates who have Thai partners choose to reside.

The Kingdom offers many opportunities, a high standard of expat living, and food that is ranked right up there with the world’s best. With all of this and more in mind, there is one thing that expats must put in place. That is securing the best possible international expat insurance in Thailand.

Here are the reasons why starting with:

Medical care and health systems in Thailand

Before getting into further details on exactly why the best expat insurance in Thailand is necessary, let’s take a look at the public healthcare system and standard of medical care.

Great strides continue to be made in improving the country’s public healthcare services. Their universal health coverage program began in 2002 and now offers health care to the vast majority of its citizens. Civil servants and any family members receive healthcare cover via a civil service welfare system.

As for private employees, they are often covered through a social security system supported by payroll contributions. Any expatriates who hold a private-sector job may also be eligible for this coverage. Expat retirees are not eligible to join this system.

It is the Ministry of Public Health’s responsibility to oversee the running of more than 1,000 hospitals in the Kingdom. As can be imagined, facilities and treatment standards in such a large number of hospitals do vary considerably. While major cities do offer good standards of public medical care, the more rural areas are often found wanting.

Although these public health care initiatives must be applauded there is a flipside. This comes through varying levels of treatment, the age of medical equipment available, long waiting lists, and very crowded waiting rooms.

In terms of more routine treatment, if you need to visit a doctor’s office or local clinic for minor ailments or consultation this is relatively easy. There are a good number of these throughout the country. However, while some GPs will speak English, not all do. In that case, taking along a local translator is recommended.

As for pharmacies, particularly in the larger cities, these are also in good supply. They provide local and international medicines to fulfill your OTC (Over The Counter) or prescription needs. Most pharmacists speak English and are ready to help you out as needed. The cost of such medication is also far cheaper than in western countries.

As touched on above, if you are an expat with a valid work visa for employment in Thailand there is the opportunity to join the government scheme. Having said that, even those expats who work in the country tend to opt for private health insurance. This is due to the much higher standards and choice of private medical establishments, far less crowded waiting areas, and minimal waiting times.

Those expats who bring family members to stay with them (whether working expats or retirees) must ensure that sufficient private health insurance cover is put in place for their needs.

The best expat insurance in Thailand offers a choice

There are many good reasons to secure international expat insurance in Thailand but the first is most important.

The Thai government requires that all foreigners in Thailand must have some form of health insurance while staying or living in the country. Unless you are one of the very few working expats that decide to take medical insurance cover via the country’s universal health scheme, private expat insurance is required.

Retired expats must be aware of this because they are not eligible for the government’s scheme.

But the positive side of medical care for foreigners comes through extensive choice. There are many first-class health insurance policies available to meet the needs of every expat. This cover comes from the most basic policy available right up to fully comprehensive insurance that will meet the most demanding of needs.

Expats then need to consider the fact that there are over 300 private hospitals across Thailand with 66 (and counting!) JCI (Joint Commission International) accredited hospitals in the country.

The JCI is a leading and highly respected global organization recognized for the part it plays in assessing health care quality and patient safety around the world. The Kingdom currently has more JCI-accredited hospitals than any other Southeast Asian country and is 4th in the world standings with only Saudi Arabia, China, and the UAE having more.

It is only natural that many of these private health care establishments are located in and around the country’s capital, Bangkok. Having said that, there is still a very good choice in major cities right across the country. Those locations where expats are most likely to work and live all have such establishments.

Most of Thailand’s specialists and doctors have trained and worked in the West and have an excellent command of English. When it comes to general health procedures and more complex specialist care that expats may require this is available with excellent treatment procedures. 

Expatriates can be assured of clean, modern clinics and hospitals with a good choice of accommodation should a hospital stay be required. There are also reduced waiting times for visits. Although appointments are recommended it is often the case that walk-in visits will see you dealt with quickly and efficiently.

While general care can be seen as affordable, emergency and special procedures costs can quickly mount up. To avoid having to pay from your savings it is recommended that appropriate expat health insurance cover is put in place as a priority.

The cost of international expat insurance in Thailand

Taking out quality expat insurance cover in Thailand is a must for retirees and is strongly recommended for working expats. Here are two sides of the expat medical insurance to bear in mind when it comes to cost and coverage.

As mentioned, expats with an official work permit could have some form of expat health insurance included in their remuneration package. While this is an employee perk that is often included it should be understood that the levels of coverage can vary significantly.

This makes understanding exactly what type of cover your employer's scheme offers. If the cover offered is not as comprehensive as you would like, it is possible to take out a complimentary expat health insurance policy. These additional policies will certainly give peace of mind.

The last thing an expatriate needs is to find that if prolonged care or hospitalization is needed that their company package does not fully cover the costs. Additionally, if you want ‘extras’ such as dental or optical cover that also needs checking. If this is not included, any such treatment must be paid for by yourself. 

Two other factors that must also be checked are:

Does the company health insurance policy cover Thailand-only services or does this cover extend to other countries? This may not be so important if you are permanently based in the Kingdom. However, those expats whose job requires international travel need to make sure they are covered for any country visited.

The second factor relates to those expatriate workers who bring their families with them to Thailand. If family health cover is not included in your remuneration package then additional cover must be taken out.

Before moving on to what retired expats who are making a new life in the Kingdom should bear in mind, here's an important note for companies. Company owners or those responsible for managing expat health insurance schemes should carry out regular reviews on what is currently offered and what is available.

By doing so you will get the best deals and cover for your company and all expat employees. As will be seen below, Expat by Expat are ready, willing, and able to assist in these reviews.

Getting back to retirees who are looking at international expat insurance in Thailand, they are starting from scratch. This means the type of policy required will depend upon such things as your age, current medical health, any pre-existing conditions, and how comprehensive you want any coverage to be.

The factors relating to working expats also apply to retirees. This includes any dependents' needs, whether you want this coverage for Thailand only or to cover other countries you may visit, and whether ‘extras’ such as dental and optical treatment need covering.

Because of the wide range and different coverage types of expat health policies in Thailand, deciding which is best for you can be a challenge. Rest assured, it does not need to be.

The highly experienced Expat by Expat team of international health insurance brokers is ready to take this up on your behalf. We have real-life experience of living and working in Thailand and are fully aware of the challenges all expats face. With such knowledge, you can be assured of getting the best service and a range of policies for international expat insurance in Thailand that meets your individual or company needs.

Whatever your expat status is and whether working or retired the Expat by Expat team is ready to help you. This can be achieved by completing the quick and easy expat health insurance comparator (Or insert link) above. Once that is received we will study your requirements and present you with a selection of suitable policies that best meet your medical care needs and budget.

Thailand is a wonderful place for expats. Securing the best possible expat insurance with the help of Expat by Expat will ensure you can enjoy an envious lifestyle. That will come with peace of mind through the fact that you are covered for any health care treatment or emergency situation that could arise.

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