In a recent poll on Thaivisa 45% of expats said they do not have health insurance and, for me, it’s a huge risk on their life that they are playing.
When I ask fellow expat Brits why they are not insured they 9 times out of 10 say they will just go back to the UK and get treatment. But, it’s not that easy as they make it out to be. To begin with, you need to get approval from a doctor and the airline itself that you are capable of flying. Airlines do not want to have to do an emergency landing or have to deal with ailments like incontinence. There is every chance, especially if you have been in a nasty accident, that you just cannot travel. So, how are you going to pay for a treatment stuck in Thailand that can easily top a million baht and what about the longer term costs if you then require on-going medication?
Hands up, before I had a family as a single guy, I never got insured and being under 40 years old I was willing to take the risk; but I can see how I was taking an unnecessary risk and could have ended up in all sorts, more so when I realise a basic health insurance coverage does not break the bank.
If you have kids you owe it to them to protect them too. Can you imagine being unable to pay for treatment if your child had an accident? It is not only irresponsible but heartbreaking.
On October 31st 2019 it will become mandatory to have a defined level of health insurance coverage for those getting a non-O-A visa for the first time (commonly known as the ‘retirement visa’). It is quite reasonable to expect that at some point all expats would be made to have a level of health insurance coverage, retiree or otherwise. Forget the fact that this is Thailand protecting itself from having to pick up any bills from uninsured foreigners, it is protecting us – as the individual – far more in the long run!
Since I have had family health insurance – which has been 5 years now – I have used it many times for when my kids have been ill. The two biggest costs, that were of course covered, was 990,000 baht when my youngest was in ICU for two weeks and then a further 350,000 baht when I needed a back operation. We cannot assume we will be the lucky ones that never have an accident or fall ill. It can happen at any time to anyone.
I wrote this blog not to lecture or wave the naughty stick at fellow expats chancing not being insured but because I would hate to see anyone fall into an impossible position due to having a nasty accident or illness and not having health insurance coverage. In fact sometimes when you look to be preaching to others it can have a bit of a backlash from some readers, so I am running a risk just by publishing it. But in Dan about Thailand, I do have this platform that reaches lots of expats and so hope – personal risk aside – this blog can make a positive difference. There are so many policies that even if you are on a budget you can find one that gives you enough coverage to give you peace of mind.
The initial catalyst to this blog follows on from an interview I have just had with Pacific Cross Health Insurance who underwrite, provide the policies and manage the Thaivisa Protect insurance policies seen on Thaivisa.com. They rattled off heartbreaking and tragic story after story of expats who did not have either proper level of insurance or no insurance and found themselves and families in impossible situations. What they said made perfect sense and I am sure will be well received when published. We owe it to ourselves and families to make sure we are protected.