Why is it vital to have sufficient health insurance cover?

For many expats living in Thailand, health insurance is something that they have continual felt was a luxury rather than a necessity. Sadly, too many have found to their cost that this is a foolhardy approach and one that can leave them with medical bills that run into hundreds of thousands, if not millions of baht. Thailand is a country that is quickly becoming part of the developed world, and this means better quality care, but with it, increased costs.

Expat health insurance in Thailand is now essential for several reasons, some of which we will cover in this article. In almost every aspect of life, Thailand is a very different country to that which you may have visited or lived in a decade or more ago. It is vital regardless of your age you have not only some health cover but sufficient health insurance coverage to ensure that should the worst happen, you are adequately covered. Here are some of the reasons why.

  1. Medical costs rising all the time

As we touched upon above, the cost of everything is increasing in Thailand, and that is undoubtedly the case with medical care. Many private hospitals in major cities have facilities that are comparable with anything that you would find in the west. The medical professionals have often received training abroad and speak excellent English so are not surprisingly well rewarded.

For almost any stay in a quality hospital overnight, you can expect to pay over THB100,000. However, for anything serious, you could easily be looking closer to one million if not more. Some cheap insurance policies only offer THB50,000 worth of cover, which is woefully short. Is this something that you and your family could afford?

  • Self-insuring not an option

Many expats used to see self-insuring as being the best option for them, but unfortunately, with the increased costs that this is no longer viable. In reality, you would need to be saving significant sums each month, but these sums are often greater than the monthly premiums. While there is an argument that you are saving the money in a bank account and, therefore, it is yours to do as you please, could you realistically save several million baht to cover cancer care? For most people, the answer would be “no”, so taking out sufficient health insurance is critical.

  • Returning to your “home” country may not be possible

Another excuse which was frequently used by expats was “if I get sick, I’ll just go home”. While in some cases this may be possible, accidents and heart attacks can’t be planned for and require urgent medical treatment. In these circumstances, having minimal or worst still, no insurance cover could once again put you or your loved ones in a position where significant sums of money need to be raised quickly.

Another problem is that some countries, such as in the UK, expats returning to live have to wait for a specified period before they are entitled to free healthcare. Should you have a serious condition such as cancer, this delay could potentially be life-threatening.

  • Peace of mind

If you have insufficient expat health insurance in Thailand, it will always be at the back your mind causing you unnecessary stress and anguish. The argument that “something is better than nothing”, doesn’t work in this case, when you consider the significant amounts that you may need to find in addition to your premiums and on top of the minimal amount that your existing insurer is required to pay.

Thailand is a beautiful country, but you want to be in a position to enjoy it, but sadly accidents and road accidents, in particular, are common. Having the peace of mind, that should you be involved in an accident; you will get the best treatment in an international hospital rather than a local government establishment with inadequate facilities.

  • Protecting loved ones

Being landed with a huge medical bill can be catastrophic for many families and may mean that they lose everything that they own. Would you want this to happen to your family, meaning that they have to live in sub-standard accommodation or your children can’t go to an international school? Although it may seem harsh, having no insurance or insufficient insurance is selfish and potentially ruin your family’s future.

  • Legal requirement

A point that often goes overlooked is that for many visas such as the Thai Retirement Visa, adequate health insurance is a legal requirement. For foreigner re-entering the country, they will be required to have a minimum of USD100,000 worth of coverage for the duration of their visa. What this effectively means is that either your visa won’t get renewed (in the case of a Retirement Visa), or you will only have local coverage through local social security in the case of those with a work permit. Again this could have enormous implications for your long-term future.