Any expat living in Thailand should have sufficient health insurance to cover them should they become ill or be involved in an accident. Healthcare in Thailand is still cheap in comparison to many countries in the west but it should be appreciated that medical bills for something relatively minor can quickly mount up. This can put a severe financial strain on yourself, your family and in some cases, friends. All too often we see ‘Go Fund Me’ appeals to cover people who haven’t taken out health insurance.
Insurance is something that no one ever wants to use but it is a necessity with a wide range of policies available to suit almost all budgets. However, it is important to check that the level of cover offered is suitable as taking out a policy with a low level of cover – in some cases in the region of THB50,000, is probably not worth it. You should also check that the policy doesn’t stop at either 65 or 70 – something that is common with local providers.
Although sometimes out of the financial means of some people, it is always advisable, where possible to take out expat health insurance as this is designed to cater far more to the western market.
Generally speaking, health insurance comes in two forms, comprehensive cover and inpatient only. There are significant advantages and disadvantages with both forms although many in Thailand chose to take out inpatient only cover as this is far more cost-effective. Some policies will also have the option of an excess or deductible which will once again reduce the costs.
It should be stressed that with almost all policies, any pre-existing conditions will not be covered with exclusions often being imposed. Here are some of the best insurance companies that are available but we would always recommend consulting a broker who would be able to advise you and will NOT cost you anything extra.
This is probably one of the most comprehensive policies that is available but provides complete peace of mind. As you would imagine, this is the most costly of the options on our list and is most suited to higher net worth individuals purely because of the financial implications. Those who do take out the cover are safe in the knowledge that they will be covered anywhere in the world although some of the cheaper policies do not cover the US or Hong Kong.
Regency for Expats
Regency is a global insurer with offices around the world. Here in Thailand, they were previously known as Principle and have a headquarters in Bangkok. They have quite a wide range of packages available – all of which are excellent with claims being settled quickly with the minimum amount of fuss and stress. Again, this is a slightly more expensive policy but the policyholder and their families have the reassurance that they will be cover should anything go wrong.
This is a French-owned company with a regional office in Bangkok. They have a selection of policies all of which are aimed at expats with some being region specific. Their policies are more attractive to the younger age group and they have the facility to pay monthly that can make it more affordable. The level of cover is good as too is their reputation for processing claims thanks to having teams on the ground in Thailand. The insurance is accepted by all the major hospitals in the country.
This is yet another of the good quality international insurers that are available in Thailand. This is a British owned company that appeals to many clients thanks to the fact that they offer a large excess (deductible). On one policy this is US$5,000 and another US$2,000. The level of cover is ample and thanks to the large excess, the policies are very affordable.
The downside with this company is that they don’t have offices in Thailand which can, unfortunately, cause some problems at hospitals when liaising with another country appears to be difficult on occasions. On a similar note, although they are recognised by major hospitals some are not familiar with them which can cause unwarranted stress.
Pacific Cross is a large Thai provider that is often chosen by large companies for group schemes. The company have a wide variety of policies that are suitable for both Thais and expats alike and like, Healthcare International, have the option of a large deductible. Opting for the more expensive policies is recommended as the cheaper policies can leave you woefully short in terms of cover.
BUPA is a well-known company that offers reasonable levels of cover although it does pay to be selective with the package that you choose. The lower premium policies are again best avoided where possible but their comprehensive policies are suitable for almost everyone. The fact that they are so well known is one of the major advantages with this company.
AXA Health Insurance
AXA’s health insurance are towards the bottom end of the market in terms of their price and their level of cover but are still far better than nothing. This is local insurance that is recognised by all the major hospitals but is advisable for policyholders to opt for a cheaper hospital for treatment otherwise they may find that they have insufficient coverage.