A Quick Guide to Healthcare for Expats in Thailand

A Quick Guide to Healthcare for Expats in Thailand

By Admin / May 09, 2024 / Family Life

Being an expat in Thailand offers a world of excitement and new experiences. However, ensuring access to quality healthcare should be a top priority amidst the cultural immersion and exploration. Regardless of how long you've lived in the country, there may be certain aspects of the health care system that you're not aware of.

At VERSO International School, we understand the significance of providing our staff, faculty, students and their families with the necessary resources to thrive in this dynamic environment. This guide will help you confidently navigate the Thai healthcare system, ensuring you and your loved ones receive the care you deserve.

Can Foreigners go to Public Hospitals in Thailand?

Thailand offers high-quality healthcare overall. Thailand's public health insurance program, known as the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS), is primarily designed for Thai citizens.

There are two options for accessing healthcare services: the public healthcare system and private healthcare facilities. While foreign workers in Thailand are entitled to free public healthcare, most foreigners choose private healthcare since it is speedier and of greater quality.

Though Thailand's public healthcare system is generally more affordable compared to private options, public hospitals can be overcrowded, and, despite the doctors being excellent, the quality of care may vary. Additionally, language barriers can pose a challenge, as English proficiency among staff is often limited. For this reason, we recommend opting for private healthcare while staying in Thailand as an expat. Private healthcare in Thailand is less expensive than in the US and Western Europe.


Comparison of medical expenses (2019): Bangkok Post

Can a Foreigner Get Health Insurance in Thailand?

To access Thailand's private healthcare system, you will need to have comprehensive health insurance. Often, companies in Thailand provide employees with health insurance, however this may be limited when it comes to more costly treatments so be sure to check your level of coverage and consider getting an add-on package to cover you and your family. In our experience, many expats choose international plans that cover them in Thailand and when they travel or visit their home country. This means that you can access medical care anywhere.


Comparison of medical treatment costs (2022): Krungsri Research

The phrase "global coverage" is commonly included in many Thai health insurance policies. However it sometimes refers primarily to medical emergencies. You might not be eligible for coverage if you want to receive medical care overseas. For this reason, thoroughly review the guideline to determine if you will be permitted to receive treatment for non-urgent medical procedures—like a scheduled surgery—outside of Thailand.

For expats seeking better care and more convenient access to medical services, private healthcare facilities in Thailand are the preferred choice. They provide high-quality care, modern facilities, and English-speaking staff. While more costly than public options, private healthcare offers peace of mind and a level of service tailored to the needs of the international community.

What is the Most Popular International Hospital in Bangkok?

Finding a suitable he­althcare provider that you are comfortable with is crucial for your well-be­ing during your stay in Thailand. Try seeking out recomme­ndations from fellow expats, espe­cially those living in your area or with similar healthcare­ needs. Online forums and e­xpat communities can be valuable source­s for first-hand experience­s and referrals.

Bangkok has a wealth of options when it comes to hospitals that cater specifically to the inte­rnational community. Within reach of the VERSO International School area in Bangkok, se­veral healthcare facilitie­s have gained a strong reputation for e­xcellence among e­xpats, such as:

  • BNH Hospital
  • Bumrungrad International Hospital
  • Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital
  • Bangkok International Hospital
  • Princ Suvarnabhumi Hospital
  • Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital
  • Thai Nakarin Hospital
  • Sikarin Hospital


*Screenshot from Google Maps showing the locations of popular hospitals in central Bangkok

Bangkok’s international hospitals are we­ll-known for their high-quality care, English-speaking staff, and e­xtensive expe­rience in treating inte­rnational patients.

What are the Most Common Health Problems in Thailand?

Thailand is generally a safe and healthy place to visit, but expats may encounter some health concerns. Being informed and taking preventive measures can go a long way in staying healthy. Some common issues to be aware of include:

Diseases like dengue fever, malaria, and chikungunya are common in certain parts of Thailand, especially during the rainy season. Using insect repellent and taking precautions can reduce the risk of getting these illnesses.

Traveler's diarrhea and other stomach problems can happen from exposure to different bacteria or food preparation methods. Practicing good hygiene, drinking bottled or purified water, and being cautious when dining out can lower the chances of these problems.

Thailand's tropical climate can lead to heat-related problems like exhaustion, stroke, and dehydration, especially for those not used to the high temperatures and humidity. Stay hydrated, seek shade, and limit outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day.

Bangkok at times has high air pollution levels, the peak being during the winter (around November to February). This can worsen breathing issues or cause long-term health problems. To reduce risks, try to limit time in polluted areas and use air purifiers at home or work.

In Thailand, pharmacies are more prevalent in Bangkok than in its rural parts.

It may surprise foreigners to learn that certain drugs that are sold over-the-counter at Thai pharmacies but would need a prescription in western countries, and vice versa. Pharmacies remain open late into the night, with several 24-hour pharmacies functioning in Bangkok, and many Thai pharmacists are fluent in English. Pharmacy facilities are frequently associated with hospitals.

Emergency Services in Thailand

Bangkok traffic may delay the speed of response. In practical terms, this may mean that, if you are able to, going alone to treatment centers could be quicker.

Based on our experience, you may encounter language barriers while attempting to call for an ambulance since government emergency service operators aren't always fluent in English. While some private hospitals run their own ambulance services, there are private ambulance services that offer services to English speakers. If you have private health insurance, contact your provider for guidance on the nearest suitable medical facility.

1669 is the number for medical emergencies; 191 is for police contact; and 1155 is an emergency number specifically for supporting foreigners in Thailand.

Be sure to have these numbers on hand and provide your location and any important medical details when calling for help.


Accessing Healthcare as an Expat in Thailand

Getting the best healthcare as an expat in Thailand requires being proactive and well-informed. Understand your options, get comprehensive insurance, and take preventive measures to stay healthy.

At VERSO International School, we're dedicated to equipping our students and their families with the knowledge and resources to thrive. This guide aims to help you make informed decisions about your healthcare needs in Thailand.

Your health is a top priority. Taking the right steps to access quality care will contribute to a fulfilling and rewarding expat experience. We wish you a smooth transition and a wonderful journey as an expat in Thailand.