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With its white sandy beaches and warm weather, Thailand is a tropical wonderland. It’s a popular destination for tourists and expats alike. Of  course, when you’re travelling abroad, it’s always a good idea to be prepared, and getting health insurance in Thailand is certainly a recommendation well-worth following.

Here’s some info to help you out.

The Healthcare system

The Department of Medical Services at Thailand’s Ministry of Public funds all of the country’s public health service and government hospitals. They public hospitals offer quality care, but they sometimes face overcrowding, which can lead to long waiting times.

If you’re working in Thailand, you’re covered for public hospitals via social security payments. Otherwise, your only option is to pay out-of-pocket or for private health insurance in Thailand, which covers both private and public health facilities.

Both provide quality care, but the public sector has four times as many beds as the private, while the private sector offer shorter wait times as well as world-class care; Bangkok is home to Bumrungrad International, one of the top 10 hospitals in the world. Many private facilities have English speaking staff and staff for foreigners.

Who, what and how much?

Workers are automatically covered by insurance in Thailand, as they are legally obligated to pay 5% of their monthly income to the country’s social security system. Those cover the public healthcare network in the country, but if you’re not an employee, then you have to turn to paying out-of-pocket or health insurance.

How long can you stay uncovered?

There isn’t really legislation on Thailand prohibiting people from not having health insurance, but it’s a bad idea to go around not having health insurance in Thailand in case the worst comes to pass. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay bills, those can be costly.

Penalties?

Again, there is no legislation regarding not being covered by health insurance, so there aren’t any penalties. Other than no being prepared for emergencies.

How to get insurance?

Employees can get health insurance in Thailand via the social security office. Meanwhile, for those opting for private insurance can get insurance should check with providers about their application processes. However, the banks can sometimes offer cheaper insurance than the providers directly. You’ll need a valid work visa, and there’ll be  a 30 day wait period before you can consult a doctor.