This is a brief addition to the blog more of interest to those who are living here or plan to do so at some stage than general readers.
Update 16 Nov 2015:
A reader of the blog has let me know about an article he published on his Thai blog relating to Thai health insurance HERE. It is an excellent resource and must rate as one of the best detailed posts of Thai health insurance available. Highly recommended. My thanks to Karsten.
I have been in Thailand for a couple of years and have resisted taking out private health insurance to this point. To date I have relied on a reasonable capital lump sum to provide for emergency funding but, although this is still a healthy amount, it isn’t as large as I would ideally like post the house build. With this in mind I decided to be 100% safe and take out some private insurance to cover me without relying on Australian capital.
People come here expecting health to be very cheap, and certainly if you rely on the public system it is inexpensive compared with Australia. Even the private system is considerably cheaper than many western countries. As a very simple example I needed a medical certificate to obtain a five year Thai driver’s licence and it cost me a bit over a dollar for the “consultation” (the only requirement was that I was breathing). From memory a quick visit to the doctor in Canberra was settling me back $70.00, although some of that was covered by the government rebate system. I am sure basic private hospital treatments are comparatively inexpensive too.
However if you want to make choices in the level of healthcare you receive, especially if it is for a major incident, then you pay for what you get and the costs can add up even in Thailand. I remember being sent an email about an Englishman living in Phuket, who I had met during my time there. He went through a car windscreen in an accident and friends were asking for donations to help fund a 1 million baht recovery – that’s A$40,000. Dramatic I know but it’s the big things you want to be covered for.
Speaking of choice we recently took my stepdaughter Peng, who has cerebral palsy which affects her mobility, to one of the major public hospitals in Khon Kaen, a big city an hour and a half from us for her six monthly check-up. I have never seen so many people in hospital waiting areas. There would have been 50 people lined up waiting for x-rays and each department was packed.
There were plenty of people who were obviously patients lying on wheelie beds mixed in with everyone else. Now I am sure that everyone would have been seen eventually (we waited four hours with Peng for a ten minute examination the time before last) and the cost would have been zero or low but do you really want to go through that?
In another very minor example, but illustrative of the way money talks in health, having taken Peng to Khon Kaen last Monday we mixed it up by heading the opposite way to Udon Thani on Saturday to get an x-ray of her teeth, starting the process for her to get braces. We had a referral to a private hospital in Udon and the whole process was micro-managed and we were out of there in about 30 minutes with x-ray at a cost of A$35.00.
These examples are a generalisation based on very little experience and there are obviously different levels of hospitals and services available. In an emergency you would be probably seen quickly, as you mostly would in Australia, etc etc but it made me think about how I wanted to be treated if an emergency did happen. In that situation I would just want the best available attention no matter what the cost and I am sure most people would like the option to feel the same. This combination of financial and choice finally got me going on looking at what alternatives there were in health insurance and what the cost would be to insure myself to a comfortable level.
In searching around on the internet I came across a package of health plans offered by Pacific Cross. I liked the choice of options, which allowed you to obtain “discounts” on what you excluded in cover and the upfront contribution you made. It ended up being a pretty flexible set of options.
I was after a hospital cover only i.e. no outpatient cover, and was prepared to put in 40,000 THB and this brought the costs down considerably. At age 59 I ended up paying around 35,000 THB for a premium plus package, which is around A$1,400 p.a.
Like all Thai health insurance the premiums are age related, unlike Australia where the cost of the elderly is partly covered by healthier, younger contributors. Getting insurance when you are most likely to need it for age reasons is hugely expensive here and many insurance covers cut out at some stage – 70 years old for example. You may need to look at self-funding at some stage in your retirement or rely on public care.
I dealt with Greg Stoddart, Pacific Cross Manager of Direct Sales, by email and found him to be very responsive and pleasant to deal with .The whole process went smoothly without any problems at all. Their application form is easy to follow and not onerous to fill out and there are a choice of payment methods offered. Greg’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. The company’s website can be found HERE. I have no relationship with this company or Greg other than now being a customer.
Update 28 Jul 2016:
Greg is no longer with Pacific Cross and all enquiries should be directed to Chanida. She handled my renewal this year and all went very smoothly.
Client Relationship Assistant Manager
Pacific Cross Health Insurance PCL
Chartered Square Building, 21st Floor, Room 21-01
152 North Sathorn Road, Silom, Bangrak
Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Mobile: (+66) 8989 44975 | Office: (+66) 2401 9189 | Fax: (+66) 2401 9187
I am not making this recommendation based on a huge amount of time spent on research and therefore sharing the very best that’s available with you. In no way am I a health insurance expert or even close so I leave it to you to make your own analysis and judgement about what works for you. All I am offering is an admittedly untested option that may be of interest and is easy to set up – in my case anyway, and I think reasonably priced.
The following PDFs are useful in working out cover and premiums for Pacific Cross and if nothing else give you a base from which to compare against other offerings.
I have also attached a very useful summary chart covering many Thai health insurers. This is now a couple of years old so the detail may have changed but it does give you a good idea of the range of choices, limitations and the comparative costs. My thanks goes to Tony Dabbs, the agent who compiled and sent me this information. Tony has since died and his business no longer seems to be operational.
Thanks for reading.