A little about Thailand…
Thailand was actually called Siam until 1949 when it officially changed to Thailand. Covering around 515,000 square kilometres, it has a population of around 69 million people (20th in the World as of 2016). The vast majority of the population (95%) are Buddhist, which is a massive part of their identity and their culture. Around 4.3% (2016) are Muslim, but they tend to live in the south near to the Malaysian border. This country is a tribute to true South East Asian history with no European influence to be seen - this is because it is the only South East Asian country that was never colonized by the Europeans. So, if you want a real South East Asian experience, then there is no better destination.
So, now that you know a bit more about this incredible country, let’s explain a bit about how the healthcare system works here.
Royal respectAnything said that is deemed to be derogatory to any of the royal family is punished as treason, often resulting in an extensive prison sentence.
I hope you can spellThe capital - Bangkok - has a ceremonial name that is probably the most difficult to spell in the world: Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.
Be careful where you treadIn Thailand, the head is the most important part of your body and therefore it is respectful to keep your head lower than your elders or superiors. At the same time, your feet are the most lowly as they connect you to the material world and thus it is rude to point your feet at anyone or at statues in a temple.
The Healthcare System
Generally speaking, the healthcare system in Thailand is both affordable and commendable. A combination of both Public hospitals and Private hospitals, it is a popular spot for ‘medical tourism’. Thai citizens have free access to the Public hospitals, paid for by the government. If you are a foreigner, in almost all cases you will be asked to pay up front and be reimbursed afterwards regardless of insurance. There have been reported problems with certain types of international insurance, so double check that your insurance covers your treatment before you receive it. Doctors in Thailand tend to be specialists, which means that you will need to find out the specialist care you need and then seek the right doctor independently. These doctors often roam areas, so be careful to know where they are practicing and when. It is because of this that you will often get a “wait and see” approach. In case of emergency, the ambulance fleets are not always the best option as they are few in number, therefore if at all possible, take a taxi or have a friend drive you, as this will likely be the quickest way to get there.
The public system is not dissimilar to many countries around the world, in that the system is funded by a combination of worker, employer and government. By law, all those working in Thailand (expat or not) must contribute 5% of their salary towards this system. Of this 5%, 1.5% is matched by both your employer and the government to go towards medical coverage. In doing this, you receive free healthcare and you will be issued a social insurance card, that gives you free medical services from certain hospitals. This is not always ideal for expats however, as there are not many English speaking doctors in these hospitals. As well as this, lines can be very long and it is for these reasons we would suggest taking out Private insurance on top of this.
With Private insurance you have two options: A Local Private insurance, or an International Private insurance. With the local insurance, plans offer considerably lower coverage as well as not including any travel insurance. This can be costly if you plan to leave Thailand at any point, therefore we would suggest the second option: International private insurance. This option gives you the highest level of coverage, including access to hospitals outside of Thailand and coverage in more obscure areas of healthcare, e.g. dental and optical. They also offer considerable health benefits such as free health checkups, depending on your plan. Another advantage is access to international hospitals within Thailand itself, which have large numbers of English speaking doctors and the most western style of care. Now that you’re clued up about your various options regarding health coverage during your time in Thailand, we are now going to help you work out which VISA best suits your needs. Below, we have given some of the more common types of VISAs:
This VISA is for those who are intending to visit Thailand for the purpose of tourism. There is a list of 64 countries that do not require a VISA for staying less than 30 days, see the link to find out which countries they are: https://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/changes-visa-exempt.php. You will need proof of your entry and exit flights, as well as proof of financial means for your trip. It costs US$30 and is valid for 60 days, with the option to extend.
This VISA is for those intending on applying for a job or setting up a company in Thailand. There are two stages of this VISA. The first is a 90-day non-immigrant VISA, which is a preliminary VISA that allows you time to apply for a work permit, after which you can apply for the second stage. The second stage is the 1-year non-immigrant VISA, which allows you to conduct business and frequently enter and exit the country.
Permanent Resident Status
For those who wish to be considered a full-time citizen of Thailand. You must have: stayed in Thailand for 3 consecutive years with previous extension VISAs; been married to a Thai national for 5 years and earning a monthly wage of 30,000 BHS; a monthly wage exceeding 80,000 BHS if you’re single. You just have to present three years worth of tax statements, which outlines one of the above criteria.