Do I even need health insurance?
Why do I need health insurance in Thailand is a common question that we often hear. Many people believe that they can ‘self insure’ and pay their entire medical themselves some say ‘I will just go home if I am sick’ whilst others say that they are fit and healthy so why do they need it. In reality when we look at all these arguments a little deeper none of them really stand up.
Firstly, the concept of ‘self insuring’ can end up running into literally millions of baht in the worst case scenarios and there are very few people who wouldn’t be at the very least inconvenienced financial by this whilst others may be financially ruined. Although healthcare in Thailand in general is often cheaper than that in our home countries a prolonged stay in hospital will be expensive wherever you are in the world. Also, if for whatever reason, you are unable to access your bank account to pay these bills, who will pay? Would you really want a friend or family to have to find the money on your behalf? Sadly, stories like this are all too common when you’ve been living in Thailand for the long term.
The idea of ‘just being able to go home’ doesn’t hold much water either. If you were to be involved in a serious accident and were unable to travel, how would the bills get paid? Again this is putting added pressure and responsibility on friends and family. We have all heard stories of money needing to be raised to get people injured in accidents flown home by special medical planes or paying for doctors and nurses to accompany them on normal flights home.
The argument that you are fit and healthy at the moment again is a weak argument. This is ok if we are simply talking about illness but again doesn’t cover accidents or serious issues that come on without warning such as heart attacks or strokes. In reality some people are more likely to suffer from this than others but even the fittest of people have fallen victim to this sort of thing in the past. These are not scare tactics but this is the reality that I have experienced in the several years that I have been involved with health insurance around the world.
If you decide, as you should do, to take out health insurance it is important that you have sufficient cover. People often get confused between the cost of travel insurance and health insurance. Travel insurance is considerably cheaper but is designed purely for travel purposes, NOT for people living abroad. In fact it is highly unlikely that you would be covered if a claim did arise. Cover of THB25,000 per year covers very little if you were to be hospitalised which again could leave you with a large bill at the end. Also, many hospitals will ask for a THB100,000 deposit if they feel that either insurance will not cover your bills, so this could be something that many people find hard to get at short notice.
It is always wise to speak to a professional when you are considering health insurance. There will be a number of options available but these will be reduced with age.
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