It’s advisable to secure health insurance when teaching in Thailand, whether your school provides it or not.
You probably know by now that one of the best ways to live and work in Thailand as a foreigner is to teach. It seems like no matter where I go in Thailand, I come across teachers from all walks of life. Teachers also frequently contact the insurance brokerage I work at, Pacific Prime Thailand, to find out if their employer-provided benefits are enough. They usually aren’t.
Here are some questions you need to ask about teacher’s health insurance in Thailand to ensure you get the ideal amount of coverage.
How are the premiums paid?
If your employer provides health insurance, you’re going to want to know how the premium for it is paid. These days, many schools in Thailand only offer to pay for a teacher’s health insurance plan if they stay long-term. That means you might not receive any cover until you’ve completed one year of your contract.
You’ll be offered a stipend in the meantime instead, which you’ll have to use to secure an insurance plan on your own. Knowing your options beforehand will help ease some of the stress and give you time to look for a health insurance plan that’s suitable for you.
What benefits does your plan offer?
It only takes a few minutes of browsing health insurance plans to realize that there are so many options out there. Plans come in all shapes and sizes, with varying benefits, benefit levels, and add-ons. Since schools choose benefits that they believe their teachers need, health insurance offerings can differ from school to school.
For instance, some schools only offer worldwide coverage for inpatient care, while international schools in Bangkok often cover teachers internationally for almost all medical care (including in the US). Some schools also provide dental, vision, and maternity coverage. It really depends. Knowing what benefits your plan offers helps you see if there are any gaps in coverage that you can cover by securing add-ons or additional health insurance (top-up insurance).
Is the plan portable?
Do you plan on changing jobs or moving to another country at some point? Then you might have to leave your health insurance plan behind when that happens. This sounds okay to most, but it can become a real problem if you develop an ongoing illness or condition that requires regular medical care.
The reason is that many insurance providers won’t cover pre-existing conditions (which your illness/condition will be considered when you look for a new plan) - or will cover it for additional costs. Either way, pre-existing conditions can drive up medical care costs significantly.
But with a portable health insurance plan, you can still continue coverage if you change employers or move countries. Even though you’ll have to pay for it on your own, you can keep the benefits you have and you’ll be covered for any existing conditions. Understanding your options ahead of time can help you plan for the future and talk about your options with your insurer if you plan on moving.
Are pre-existing conditions covered?
On the topic of pre-existing conditions, coverage for these varies between plans and providers. Generally speaking, group health insurance plans that cover a certain number of people (usually 10+) will allow what is known in insurance terms as a ‘Medical History Disregard’. In layman’s terms, this means the insurer will ignore the medical history of those covered and cover most pre-existing conditions.
Several insurers are beginning to put stipulations on this where pre-existing conditions are not considered. Even so, cancer, diabetes, and other specified conditions are either not covered or come with lower coverage limits. Go over your plan’s documentation to find out whether pre-existing conditions are covered.
Does the plan cover dependents?
It used to be normal for plans offered to teachers starting at schools in Thailand to cover dependents moving with them, especially international schools. Some schools still do this, but nowadays more are choosing to only cover the teacher. If this is true with your school, you’ll have to secure health insurance coverage for your dependents on your own.
You should also note that both you and your spouse will often have to have health insurance coverage in order for your children to be eligible. Your best bet is to go through the terms and conditions and talk about your options with a reputable broker like Pacific Prime.
Where can you receive medical care?
One way insurers and employers manage rising premiums is to limit healthcare to a specific network of providers. That means the hospital bill will go straight to your insurer, as long as it’s part of the insurer’s network. But if you go to one that isn’t, you might need to pay out of pocket and submit a claim or have less of your bill covered.
You need to know if your plan has any conditions like this and where you can go for care when you need it. If you have international health insurance, you should also be aware of any countries where your insurance isn’t accepted or any limitations on the hospitals that’ll accept your plan.
I know that’s a lot to think about. But failing to ask these questions can lead to a lot of stress down the line. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all alone. We at Pacific Prime Thailand know what you need to look out for and can help you understand your existing plan, secure the right insurance plan for your needs and budget, and more.
If you’d like to have a chat about health insurance, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact my team.