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Tips for expats visiting hospitals in Thailand

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Tips for expats visiting hospitals in Thailand

As an expat living in Thailand, you’ll no doubt have to visit a hospital sooner or later. It could be for a health check-up, vaccination, or even emergency surgery. So before you do, it’s best to know what to expect and how you can best prepare yourself and your family. Of course, nobody likes being caught off-guard and health, as you know, should never be compromised. 

In this article, our friends from Pacific Prime Thailand have provided 3 tips to help you understand the country’s healthcare system better and offer guidance on why securing private health insurance is the way to go for expats in Thailand.

Tip 1: Know which hospital to attend for treatment

When compared to its neighbors in Southeast Asia, the standard of healthcare in Thailand is good, especially given that the services offered are affordable and accessible. What’s also good to know, is that across the country, many world-class hospitals can be found in its larger cities like Bangkok, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai. 

Generally, hospitals in Thailand fall under two categories: government hospitals and private hospitals. 

Government or public hospitals

The majority of government hospitals in Thailand are operated under the Ministry of Public Health. These hospitals typically focus on providing low-cost medical treatment for Thai citizens rather than international or expat patients. This is because the main users of public hospitals are Thai citizens, which means the main language communicated is Thai. 

Of course, as an expat, this can be quite a challenge if your level of Thai is pretty much basic. Not only will the language barrier make it more difficult to discuss clearly and confidently your ailments and treatment options, but government hospitals are also very crowded. In public hospitals located in major cities like Bangkok, there can be people queueing from the early hours of the morning for treatment. With there being long wait times and queues, this may make your experience frustrating when seeking medical treatment.

Additionally, with the huge number of patients waiting, good customer service may be completely negligible as the emphasis is to get patients in and out as quickly as possible. It’s common to wait several hours just to see a doctor for a matter of minutes. So if you have plans to meet a friend or travel away on business later in the day, it’s recommended to keep your diary free for the day. 

A good point to bear in mind is the cost of treatment at government hospitals, which can be significantly less than at private hospitals. So if you don’t mind waiting for several hours and endure being communicated in Thai or even broken English, then public hospitals could be your choice. However, for expat families, this is quite rare, and going to a private hospital is considered the more preferred option.

Private hospitals

Expats living in Thailand will typically want healthcare treatment closer to the standards provided in their home countries in the West and abroad. This means they will prioritize accessibility and high standards like excellent customer service. Good, clear communication when seeking medical treatment is also highly sought-after as expat patients want succinct explanations on their care and treatments. With private hospitals, this is all present and available as they normally recruit experienced and well-known medical specialists to make their hospitals appealing. 

Overall, you’ll generally receive better treatment with enhanced customer service at these hospitals when compared to government hospitals. Similarly, you’ll have more time to receive a consultation from a specialist or doctor. Private hospitals are less likely to have long queues, and even if there are, the medical staff are very professional and will keep you updated. Medical staff, including doctors and nurses, are well-trained, friendly, and kind. They understand how to approach patients and will get you feeling comfortable like you are at home. Private hospitals will also have state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to ensure you receive the best healthcare treatment.

Tip 2: Be prepared to pay for expensive medical bills

If you plan on attending a private hospital, there will certainly be costs involved. The costs do vary from hospital to hospital and change over time, which means you’ll have to prepare enough funds to cover your healthcare costs. Regardless of the reason to attend, whether that’s a check-up or day surgery, you’ll want to consider having health insurance coverage. Expats living in Thailand tend to secure private health insurance to make sure they are protected in case of an unforeseen accident or illness. This can bring peace of mind and guarantee that you will receive excellent treatment and care no matter where you are in the country.

Tip 3: Secure private health insurance for private healthcare in Thailand

According to Thai law, expats are required to have health insurance if they are working in the country. One of the laws in the country states that expats who are working legally in Thailand qualify for social security. During enrollment, expats are assigned to a specific hospital in which they must go for treatment. This means healthcare treatment will not be covered if they go to another hospital for treatment unless it is a medical emergency. Moreover, some of the best public hospitals are always full to register as the primary hospital. So to avoid disappointment, private health insurance for expats in Thailand is the way to go. Private health insurance allows policyholders to attend any of the selected hospitals and clinics in their network of providers.

Pacific Prime Thailand offers health insurance plans for the country and beyond. Specializing in expat health insurance, family health insurance, and even travel insurance, they’re a leading insurance broker that keeps clients’ needs and budgets firmly in mind. Whether you’re simply considering getting or actively looking to purchase, you can contact them for expert advice or plan comparison.

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Nina has worked for Inspire and Choice Group Asia since 2011 and loves to party when she can!

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