Healthcare in Thailand

Thailand’s healthcare is generally of a high standard. The country has the unique medical problem of having more specialists than general practitioners, the result being that it’s rather difficult to find a reliable GP to treat minor medical issues.

Compared with the US and Western Europe, healthcare is cheap in Thailand. Although foreigners working in Thailand have access to free public care, most expats opt for private treatment, as private facilities offer faster and higher quality treatment.

Public Healthcare

A national health insurance system, the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS) provides free public healthcare through the Ministry of Public Health. Expats working in Thailand are covered by the UCS and their contribution to the scheme is deducted from their salary. Once enrolled in the system, new arrivals are assigned to hospitals where they will receive treatment.

Although doctors in public hospitals are excellent, waiting times for treatment can be slow and medical equipment is often out of date. A further issue is that care is restricted to specific hospitals that patients are assigned to

Private Healthcare

Private care in Thailand is excellent and private hospitals have highly qualified staff as well as sophisticated medical facilities. Although Thai private care is much more expensive than public care, it is still comparatively cheaper than the cost of equivalent medical services in the US and Western Europe. This has led to Thailand becoming something of a medical tourist destination.

Most expats prefer private healthcare for myriad reasons: the quality of care and facilities is usually better; a wider selection of hospitals to choose from; shorter waiting times; and more English-speaking staff. As private hospitals often require proof of funds if a patient is not insured, those without international health insurance may face delays in receiving treatment.

Pharmacies & Medicine

Pharmacies are common in Thailand’s urban centres but are rarer in rural areas.

Expats may be surprised to find that some medications that would require a prescription in Western countries are available over the counter in Thai pharmacies, and vice versa. Many Thai pharmacists speak English, and pharmacies are open until late into the night, with some 24-hour pharmacies operating in cities like Bangkok. Many hospitals also have pharmacies attached to them.

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