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Hi, just wondering if anyone can let us know if we have been misinformed. My husband and I are moving to Thailand later this year. We are both going to be employed by the same company. We have been told that since we will both be employed full time that we will have medical insurance under the government insurance system. We have been led to believe that this means either free or low cost co-pays for visits to the doctors and either free or very discounted prescriptions, surgeries, etc. This sounds wonderful to us but from things I keep reading on here about other expats trying to get insurance I am not sure he or we fully understand how it works. Is it possible that we will both be fully insured or will we still have to provide ourselves with alternative insurance. Any thoughts or information regarding this will be greatly appreciated.
 

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Hi, just wondering if anyone can let us know if we have been misinformed. My husband and I are moving to Thailand later this year. We are both going to be employed by the same company. We have been told that since we will both be employed full time that we will have medical insurance under the government insurance system. We have been led to believe that this means either free or low cost co-pays for visits to the doctors and either free or very discounted prescriptions, surgeries, etc. This sounds wonderful to us but from things I keep reading on here about other expats trying to get insurance I am not sure he or we fully understand how it works. Is it possible that we will both be fully insured or will we still have to provide ourselves with alternative insurance. Any thoughts or information regarding this will be greatly appreciated.
Jenna:

The question you pose is very important. To protect yourself and your family (possible future children) you really must clarify the details with your employer. What is the employers responsibility to you in all aspects, health insurance, unemployment should the company fail, return air fare to the US, pay and benefits, vacation time, sick time, hours per day, hours per week, frequency of pay checks, Thai Baht or US Dollars, etc. You must clarify these questions in your employment contract. Be safe.

You need to get the details, in writing, BEFORE you travel to Thailand. Beware.

Good Luck.
 

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Before everybody hit the panic button, I want you guys to lighten up a little bit. Let me put things in perspective here, if I was going to be somewhere without health insurance, I would want to be in Thailand. It's still affordable out of your own pocket. It's not like the US where the cost is so high that if you don't have insurance, you're one major illness away from bankruptcy. The Thais don't have to live with that kind of fear.

With that being said, yes, ask your employer. Chances are they have rules and whatever they provide, they don't have to pay huge premiums like the employers in the US. The 'sick' care system in the US has gotten totally out of control a long time ago due to lawyers and insurance companies and business in general. It was decided a long time ago that the system will encourage (force) people to become worker bees (slave) to corporations instead of running their own small businesses like the rest of the world. Health insurance is one of the keys to keep workers at bay. Just think how many people would quit their job with all the major corporations if they don't have to worry about health insurance. Thailand is nowhere like that.

So you got time to ask questions and there is absolutely no need to panic as the 'sick' care here is nowhere as bad as the US.
 

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Jenna. Some of the government hospitals I have seen are not places you want to be staying in ... but I haven't had any experience with making claims on this government scheme.

Assuming you two are not at the bullet-proof backpacker stage of life, then I think you can probably proceed on the basis that the level and type of cover will be inadequate for your needs and that you will need to arrange additional coverage with a private sector provider.

It can't hurt to ask your proposed employer to email you some details about exactly what is or isn't covered in this scheme.
 

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You get what you pay for

Medical Care:

The old adage applies, you get what you pay for. It is far better to be well insured and able to utilize the private hospitals.

Having married into a Thai family I have some, and thankfully minimal, experience with the Thai public health care system. You really do need available Baht for service.

Enter a Thai public hospital with a seriously sick family member (an elder). My brother-in-law signs up (similar to taking a ticket at the deli counter). Then try to find seating. The waiting room is spacious and "packed". A different brother-in-law, who had disappeared immediately upon our arrival, had managed to procure a wheelchair for our patient, from where, only he knows. Maybe 2.5 to 3 hours later our patient is seen.

Having been invited into the Doctor's office, Falang power, and knowing a bit of Thai, but by no means being fluent in Thai medical terminology, I did note that the Doctors appraisal of the situation did change for the better when a Falang relative did accompany the patient. My money was never mentioned but did in fact provide "cost-prohibitive" prescribed medicines that I was told by my family would never had been suggested, nor prescribed had I not been there.

I was glad to help. $60 USD/month for two prescriptions that my Father-in-law would have suffered without had I not been there.

Jenna, accidents happen, pollution and disease are prevalent. In my opinion, for your own safety and protection you, and any other non-native, need private grade medical insurance.
 

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A public hospital story :

One month ago I was visiting a Thai family member in Chonburi provincial hospital who'd been rushed to ICU the previous day with breathing problems but had improved and was in a public ward open to daily visitors (he subsequently got better and was released 5 days later). In the next door bed was a farang who caught my eye and as a conversation opener told me in a loud voice "don't come here if you get sick !". He was American , 87 years old , and clearly keen on some conversation in english with a fellow tribe member.

Over the the next four days I got to know this guy pretty well during visits to my own Thai family member and we enjoyed much interesting conversation laced with humour - with me standing by his bed as there were no chairs for visitors. His story was compelling - a WW2 fighter pilot with the marines operating from carriers in the pacific war with the Japanese flying Hellcats and Corsairs , shot down 4 times , later flying Corsairs and the F86 Sabre in the Korean War and finally as a quite senior officer managing the air war in Vietnam from the States. Retiring from the military after Vietnam he had a small fruit farm in California and with his second marriage failing had met a Thai nurse working at a hospital near his home. They were married and lived together in California for the next 20 odd years. In the late 1990s he sold up his fruit farm and moved to Thailand to live with his wife. Some three years ago she sadly died from cancer and he was left alone living in Jomtien (although did have a son from the second marriage living in Bangkok with an academic career).

Shortly after his wife died he had a fall while out and about near his home which broke his hip badly rendering him permanently wheel-chair bound. He has good farang neighbours at his gated housing community who keep a watch over him and a Thai housekeeper who cooks and cleans , etc , plus drives his car on errands. He has little or no savings and relies on his monthly pension from the military to live. One or two years ago he had heart bypass surgery and was now in hospital for chest pains.

This public hospital is certainly no worse than others and the staff do their best with the limited resources they're given. At night they used to tie this guy to his bed, supposedly to stop him falling out , but I sensed the nurses were also a bit scared of him as he spoke little Thai and when he wanted something , like a drink or his nappy changing (no bedpans for some reason) , he would be somewhat vocal in english - which got him nowhere.

Anyhow , happily he got better and was released to go home the same day my Thai family member also was able to leave hospital. I've promised to visit him from time to time as he lives just up the road from me.

So why was he in this situation in a government hospital ? No private health insurance.
 

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Hi Jenna, I lived for 2 years in Ft Lauderdale and enjoyed my times there. The beaches in Thailand are beautiful too, but it's a different kind of beauty. They don't have long stretch of beaches like FL.

I was doing research on health insurance after I read some comments on this site. Of particular interest is emergency responses. I use Phuket Gazette because that's where I'm interested in moving to. Using the search word 'accident', I read many articles involving accidents. I understand that this is non-scientific, but the impression I got is that emergency response/medicine in Thailand is inadequate. Some of the stories, I was surprised that the victims died. If you get a chance, take a look at the link I provided below to get a feel. Read the story about a British pilot's accident on 21 Mar 2011 where he died. Perhaps, the situation is better in BKK, but why take chance.

I think your employer is trying to pull a fast one. Thai insurance card is good for the Thais. Due to the language barrier, you're are at disadvantage, not to mention the resentment that they will look down on Farangs using up their limited resources. Tell your prospective employer that even with a private insurance card, it's still not up to the standard that you're accustomed to. Worst come to worst, you'll buy private insurance to cover yourself in an emergency situation. I wouldn't rely on the government card.


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