Thai Government Health Insurance for Foreigners

Current Status as of March, 2014 of

Foreigner Health Insurance Program

provided by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in late 2013

In August 2013, the Thai MOPH initiated a new system allowing foreigners living in Thailand to enroll in their Universal Coverage (UC) health care program, often called the “30 baht program”, on an annual fee basis. Originally the system was developed for migrant workers and their families and priced accordingly at an annual total of 2,800 baht (inclusive of insurance premium and mandated physical exam), but a change was made later in 2013 that permitted government hospitals to enroll all foreigners, not just migrant workers from neighboring countries and their families.

This UC health insurance accepted all applicants, with no upper age limit and covered pre-existing conditions. Out-patient doctor appointments, most medications, dental and vision care were included, in addition to in-patient treatment – all for a very modest charge per visit. Applicants enrolled at the hospital which served their amphur. If a hospital could not provide a needed service, then they referred patients to a higher-level hospital. Patients could go to any government hospital for service in life-threatening emergencies.

The acceptance of all foreigners into the UC program was never implemented uniformly across Thailand. Participation seemed to be up to the discretion of the province or even the local hospital. But here in Chiang Mai province, the following hospitals issued insurance cards to foreigners of all nationalities:

Nakorn Ping (for residents of Amphur Muang and Mae Rim)

Sansai

Hang Dong

Fang

Saraphi

Sankampaeng

Doi Saket

As of December 3, 2013 Nakorn Ping hospital announced it would not accept new enrollments into the UC for foreigner program, because of the high number of elderly foreign people with critical health problems who enrolled during the first six weeks of the program. They continued to extend services to those already enrolled, but ceased on February 13, 2014. A couple weeks later, they announced they will issue a refund to all foreigners who have had their insurance cancelled – but will deduct the cost of services utilized from the refund. The claim for refund must be made in person at Nakorn Ping hospital. It is necessary to bring your passport, original receipt for the insurance and insurance card. If you do not have any of these items you must bring a police report stating they are missing.

We have received reports that other hospitals in the province are no longer enrolling non-migrant laborer foreigners and that most have also stopped providing services to those already enrolled. The exact procedures for refunds at those hospitals remains unclear, but we anticipate it to be similar to that at Nakorn Ping hospital – the cost of services provided will be deducted from the refund.

There is a possibility that a formerly insured person could be asked to pay for the cost of services that exceed the value of the insurance. We have not heard reports of this happening, but the language of the directive from the provincial MOPH to the hospitals leaves this possibility open.

We are aware of no current plans to re-evaluate this program and perhaps change the cost or administration so that foreigners could participate in the Thai UC health care program.

 

 

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