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Do expats in Bangkok need health insurance?

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Bangkok is one of the world’s top destinations for expats. Moving here is nothing short of an adventure, but there will most likely come a time when you need to see a doctor. Luckily, Bangkok boasts a large variety of hospitals and clinics. The downside, however, is it can be expensive. To help cover the costs, most people will turn to health insurance. If you are new to the city, you might be asking yourself: “Do I really need health insurance?”. To help answer this question, our partner Pacific Prime Thailand has suggested that you ask yourself the following five questions.

1. Am I already covered?

If you answered ‘yes’ to this, then you probably won’t need health insurance. However, it is important to review your existing coverage. For example, if your company provides you with coverage, be sure to take a look at your health needs and whether the plan meets them. If the answer is no, then it would be worth looking for additional coverage.

 

The same can be said for your spouse or family. If they are not covered, it might be worth securing a plan for them.

2. Am I ok paying for care out of pocket?

If you are working in Bangkok chances are good your company has set you up with social security and has likely assigned you a hospital that you can go to for highly affordable care. The problem many expats face is that these hospitals, while perfectly fine, don’t tend to have many (if any) staff who speak their language. This can make it very hard to secure the health care you need.

 

This, combined with the fact that some public hospitals are crowded, has many expats turning to the private hospitals in the city. Most of these hospitals are not part of the national health scheme, meaning without insurance you will be paying for care out of pocket.

 

Yes, private hospitals offer some of the best healthcare in the world at much cheaper prices than in the US or other western countries, but they can still be expensive, as the table below highlights:

 

*Prices in THB (as of April 2018) Bumrungrad Hospital Bangkok Hospital Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital

Accommodation (per night)

Standard/Shared

7,900

2,000

Single Private

12,000

3,800

6,500

Deluxe

14,600

6,000

9,000

Inpatient & Outpatient Services

Coronary Angiogram

210,000

74,000

150,000

Outpatient Specialist Fee

2,000-3,000

2,000

1,000-2,000

Appendectomy

115,500

113,900

89,000

Additional Benefits

Maternity (natural birth)

111,500

78,000

89,900

Dental (routine)

2,500

3,500

2,000-2,500

 

If you feel that you are ok paying these prices out of pocket, then you might not need health insurance. For the rest of us however, health insurance would be worth considering.

3. Do I plan to travel a lot?

Thailand and indeed the rest of Southeast Asia is one of the top tourist destinations for a reason. Expats in Bangkok often take advantage of cheap transportation within the country to explore parts unknown. While this is great, there is always a chance that you could be injured or fall sick while on vacation.

 

If this happens, having an insurance plan that covers you within Thailand, the region, or even worldwide can help ensure that you are able to receive the healthcare you require without ruining your holiday.

4. Do I plan to go home for healthcare?

Despite Bangkok’s top hospitals, many expats do go to see a doctor or dentist when they head home for a break. Some expats will be able to utilize public health systems in their home country like they would if they are still living there, but others will not be so lucky.

 

For example, those from the UK who have left the country are actually not required to be covered by the National Health System (NHS) when they return home on vacation and visit the doctor. They will be required to pay full price for care.

 

If this is the case, securing an international health insurance plan could be beneficial as the plan will cover care in your home country.

5. Do I plan to move jobs soon?

Moving jobs is not always an easy decision to make, and living overseas can often be made harder when you have to worry about things like work permits, visas, and more. But, there is another thing to think of too: health insurance. If you have company sponsored health insurance, you will likely not be able to take the coverage with you when you leave your current company.

 

This means that you will not have coverage either until your new company’s plan kicks in, or at all if your new company doesn’t offer coverage. If either is the case, it is important to review your options and figure out whether you will need to secure health insurance, or a top-up plan.

 

If you do need health insurance, why not give Pacific Prime Thailand a call? They specialize in helping expats find health insurance coverage in Thailand, and as part of a worldwide group of brokers, they can help you find a plan for any country. Contact them today.

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