If you are an expat working in Bangkok, chances are your employers have already provided an employee health insurance policy for you. However, we all know that, in most cases, such insurance plans are not enough to offer well-rounded protection. Furthermore, expats without permanent residence status are not eligible for the local public healthcare protection system, the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS). Therefore, it is of paramount importance for expats to batten down the hatches and have the right health insurance in place ahead of time. However, in face of lengthy terms and indecipherable jargons, selecting the right insurance policy seems no easy feat.
In this feature, our partner Pacific Prime Thailand will walk you through a list of factors you should take into account when picking health insurance.
1. Identify your needs
Different people have their specific health requirements. It will be unreasonable to jump directly to the cheapest or the most expensive insurance policy without thinking twice. Instead, you should assess your body condition, estimate your medical needs, and shop for the insurance plan accordingly. For example, if you’ve hardly ever visited a clinic in the past year, you may acquire a rather basic plan to save on costs. In contrast, if you have to visit a doctor regularly, you should probably consider a plan which focuses on out-patient benefits, meaning that you do not need overnight hospitalization.
To identify your healthcare needs, you can ask yourself the following questions:
Do I have any pre-existing condition?
Pre-existing conditions refer to any health conditions that you developed or before joining an insurance plan. If you suffer from any pre-existing condition, your new insurer will likely exclude these conditions, as well as any other illnesses or complications arising from them. Some more lenient insurers, however, may provide coverage with other restrictions, such as a waiting period or a higher excess. Generally speaking, plans with pre-existing condition coverages are more expensive than ‘normal’ plans.
How often do I visit the General Practitioner or specialist?
If you need to visit the GP frequently, you should consider plans that cover outpatient treatments. Additionally, if you have a preferred GP or specialist, confirm with your insurer to ascertain that they are within the plan’s provider network. Although you can still seek treatment outside of the provider network, insurers may only pay out a small amount of the medical fees or refuse to offer reimbursement entirely.
Do I travel to other countries frequently?
If you have to visit other countries on a regular basis, you should consider purchasing plans that offer regional coverage such as South East Asia or even global coverage.
2. Decide your benefit coverages
Once you know your healthcare needs, you can decide your benefits coverage. The reason that there are so many insurance plans within one insurance company is that different plans have different levels of coverages. With more benefits, the premiums will naturally be higher.
Most common types of benefits for insurance policies in Bangkok are as follows:
- Inpatient coverage
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Outpatient coverage
However, if you are willing to pay more for additional health benefits, you may ask for these benefits at extra costs, such as:
- Worldwide cover
- Maternity care
- Dental treatments
- Optical care
- Pre-existing conditions
- Health checks
3. Compare different insurance options
The next step is to compare the insurance plans available on the market. Other than prices, there is also a basket of factors you should take into account to ensure you are buying the most cost-effective insurance plan. Take into considerations elements like:
Some insurers will include a “mutual agreement” clause in the policy terms, which means that the insurers have the right to reject your renewal due to reasons such as expensive claims you have made or new health conditions you have developed. Other insurers have an age limit for renewal, usually 60-65, beyond which point you can only opt for other insurance plans. Therefore, it is crucial for you to purchase insurance plans that guarantee lifetime renewability so that you will still be protected even if you have developed any chronic, serious health issues.
More established, reputable insurers tend to have a longer history and more insured members to share the risks and defray the costs so that your premiums will be more predictable. They also have a more robust financial foundation and are less likely to run into profit issues or even bankruptcy.
Besides, sizeable insurers usually have a steadier history of premium hike. This is important as less-established insurers may impose drastic premium increases to compensate for their initial losses. In consequence, you may be forced to switch insurers. Thus, any conditions you have developed with your previous insurer will be viewed as pre-existing by the new insurer and automatically excluded from coverage. Picking a well-developed insurer can save you from such worries.
- Scope of coverage
As mentioned, you should check the scope of coverage to ascertain your healthcare needs are met. Apart from ensuring your conditions and GP/ specialist are included in the plan, you should also look out for any unfavorable benefit limits, out-of-pocket charges and exceptions in the policy terms.
For more information on how to compare various insurance solutions, you may want to download a free copy of our long term health insurance guide 2018-2019.
Get professional assistance from Pacific Prime Thailand
Given the complex procedure in selecting and comparing insurance solutions, it is a smart move to engage the help of an independent, licensed broker like Pacific Prime Thailand. Our team of specialists has over 18 years of experience in matching our clients with the best insurance solutions that meet their needs. As an intermediary brokerage, we will also leverage our industry knowledge and relationships with the insurers to offer you impartial advice and negotiate the best terms for you. Contact us today or call us at +66 (0) 90 887 5580 to get a free quote or a plan comparison!