Health insurance in Thailand
Before reviewing the health insurance possibilities in Thailand, we have to clarified that the comparison is to most European countries, where basically health care is socialized where best health care in the world (for the average person) at a small price. Health insurance is obligatory and not for profit and covers basically the whole lot.
When moving abroad, this is one of the benefits one looses. Even when keeping the same insurance company as before, the rules change for expatriates. Things become more expensive and complicated, even when you move to a country where health services are cheaper (as in Thailand).
There are not really a lot of insurance companies that focus on catering to the needs of expatriates around so competition between companies is hardly present.
The important thing however is what they cover.
Some dubious condition of most companies:
The most important issue in practice is the non-coverage of pre-existing medical conditions.
To make this even more striking.
Not to mention smoking, which probably is at least as lethal, but does not result in higher premiums or exclusion from insurance at all!
If you have a pre-existing health insurance, even though its premiums for expatriates are high, you may be better off for peace of mind, to stick with it as long as you financially are able to do so and most insurance companies will continue covering you for conditions that arise while you are in their health insurance program.
Local health insurance VS International health insurance
International Health Insurances:
1. Higher overall benefit limits, anywhere up to 80 million Baht.
2. Most companies have no traveling restrictions except for the USA. You are covered for everything except Pre-Existing Medical Conditions, anywhere in the world including Medical Evacuation costs.
3. All International companies adjust their premiums annually to compensate for continually changing medical costs and worldwide inflation. For well managed health insurance companies, this adjustment can range anywhere from Zero to 10%. For poorly managed companies, the increase can easily reach as high as 25%.
4. The cheapest plan from any International company will pay for a normal private room in any hospital in the world. There are usually no limits for the room rates, just as long as the room rate is comparable to other hospitals in the same area
5. International Health Insurance plans will pay ALL In-Patient expenses as long as they have been sent an invoice beforehand. It is important that you contact the insurance company before being admitted to the hospital and to make sure the hospital sends invoices to the insurance company to avoid unnecessary delays.
6. As long as you continue to pay the premiums before the due date, you are guaranteed renewal of your annual policy, Certain Insurance companies have limits on the maximum renewal age, others have no limits.
Local Health Insurances:
1. Cheaper overall premiums with corresponding lower coverage limits. Health cover benefits are very generous when compared to premiums charged.
2. Many plans include a range of sub-limits to costs of treatment, such as Surgeons Fees, Hospital General Expenses, Room and Board, Ambulance..etc.
3. Premium rates do not reflect the actual cost of insuring persons at each age group because premium rates are not adjusted annually to compensate for changing medical costs and inflation.
4. Renewal Premium rates are not guaranteed. If you are a healthy person with no claims, you can expect to pay the same premiums as other persons in your age group.
If you are sick and have claims that have cost the insurance company money, your renewal premiums will be loaded by a percentage based on the size of the claims incurred by the Insurance Company. These loadings can range anywhere from 10% to 100% and are applied each year as a factor to the basic premium you pay. In later years, these loadings are compounded for each significant claim paid by the Insurance Co.
5. Renewal of your Local Health Insurance is not guaranteed. The policy is year by year. If the Insurance Company decides not to renew your policy, they have the right to refuse renewal. This is allowed by the Thai Department of Insurance.
6. Local Health Insurance companies include a 30 day waiting period at the start of the policy for illness claims. There is no waiting period for Accident claims. 7. Local Health Insurances have time limits on travel outside of Thailand; some companies limit you to 90 days travel each year.
Features common to both International and Local Health Insurances :
1. You must be perfectly honest and disclose everything required in the insurance application. Hiding medical information is not to your benefit. If the insurance company finds out, they can either cancel your policy or deny paying claims.
2. All Insurance Companies abide by the same rules regarding Pre-Existing Conditions. Any claim as a result of a Pre-Existing Condition will not be covered. This applies even if you did not know about the Pre-Existing Condition and have never received treatment for this P/E Condition.
3. Other than Accidents, claims that occur in the first year of Insurance are always suspect. All Health Insurance companies are very cautious in paying for claims that occur in the first year because of the risk of being related to a P/E Condition. Therefore, it is in your best interests to have a Full Medical Checkup at a reputable hospital just before starting your health insurance policy. This Medical Checkup provides you with documented proof of your medical condition at the start of the Insurance Policy. It is the most important document that will help you dispute an insurance company’s decision to deny paying a claim because it is related to a Pre-Existing Condition.
4. You must inform the insurance company anytime you change your address or change your job description. 5. Contact the Insurance Company before being admitted as an In-Patient in a hospital for treatment, if you do not, you may find the insurance company will not pay the claim. In some cases, the insurance company will pay only part of the claim. The Health Insurance card offers no guarantee of payment. 6. In Emergency Cases, Go directly to the hospital and seek treatment. Ask the hospital staff to contact the insurance company when you are admitted. If you are unconscious, the hospital staff will find your health insurance card and call the insurance company on behalf of you.