Ricky Batten

What is the state of health insurance in Thailand?

Uncovering the ins and outs of the international private medical insurance (IPMI) sector

Most people are unaware of the local and global health insurance landscape. 

But in my experience working at Pacific Prime Thailand, a leading health insurance brokerage, I can tell you firsthand that what happens behind the scenes can very much impact the types of plans that are available to policyholders, the premiums they can expect to pay, and the insurance experience that they’ll encounter. In fact, this can also vary from country to country and insurer to insurer. 

That is why we release annual reports on the state of health insurance, which identifies the overarching factors at play globally, and zooms into region- and country-specific trends. While you’re more than welcome to download the State of Health Insurance Report 2021-2022 for an in-depth exploration - complete with graphs, case studies, and quotes from leading insurers, I’ll also be summarizing the main points in today’s blog.

Global factors shaping the IPMI sector

It’s been more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but it continues to leave ripple effects on the healthcare and health insurance sector. Similarly, technology has advanced at breakneck speed and an increasing number of health insurers are investing in digital technology as they remain optimistic - despite pandemic-related challenges and concerns regarding different variants. 

COVID-19’s legacy: Health equity for all

If you’ve noticed that telehealth has taken off as a result of the pandemic, then you’re absolutely right. Given the mental health impacts of lockdowns and isolation, employers are also reducing mental health stigma and increasing mental health benefits. These developments can be understood through the lens of ‘health equality’ or when everyone has the opportunity to attain their full health potential. 

Data is the new healthcare currency

Data-driven insights have also resulted in personalized patient experiences and new ways of providing services, including value-based care models. Not only does it have the potential to improve health outcomes, but cost-effectiveness as well. You also shouldn’t be surprised if you see non-traditional, Big Tech, and retail players like Amazon and Apple entering the healthcare game. 

Health insurers buckle up for growth

Health insurers continue to pour investment into insurtech (a portmanteau of insurance and technology), which increases efficiency and enhances the experience for clients like yourselves. But cybersecurity remains an area insurers have to focus on, as is transparency in how personal data is handled and talent attraction & retention in an evolving hybrid work environment. 

Thailand-specific trends to take note of

In the context of the Land of Smiles, the easing of pandemic-related travel restrictions this year and evolving regulations on behalf of the Office of Insurance Commission (OIC) have also impacted the health insurance landscape. Likewise, tourists and retirees in Thailand should be aware of changes regarding health insurance requirements and/or coverage, as well as fees to enter the country. 

Thailand Pass scrapped

As we’re all aware, Thailand’s Center of COVID-19 Situation Administrative (CCSA) removed the Thailand Pass registration scheme and a USD $10,000 health insurance requirement effective July 1st, 2022. Recently, the CCSA also removed the requirement for a vaccination certificate or negative RT-PCR / professional ATK test result taken within 72 hours of travel. This development is set to impact the demand for travel insurance plans in Thailand. 

A tourist fee was introduced and the retiree insurance coverage increased

Tourists will need to pay a THB ฿300 fee for entering Thailand and these funds will be used to help tourists in case of emergencies such as sudden sickness, accident, or political unrest whilst traveling in Thailand. As for retirees on non-immigrant O-A visas, the minimum insurance coverage has increased to USD $100,000. Many retirees have had difficulties finding suitable health coverage in the local market. 

New policies regarding COVID-19 coverage and hospital choices

Based on a change in the OIC regulation, insurers in Thailand no longer needed to cover asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. As such, many clients without visible symptoms began to opt for home isolation, rather than admit to a hospital or hospitel (hotels that converted into hospitals for mild cases). Beyond the pandemic context, insurers may also limit hospital choices moving forward due to the high costs associated with first-tier hospitals. 

We’ve only just scratched the surface of the State of Health Insurance Report 2021-2022, and I highly recommend checking out the full report if you have the time. 

As always, you’re also more than welcome to email me at ajarn@pacificprime.co.th or contact my team at Pacific Prime Thailand to discuss all things health insurance. 


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