Every single day, I start with a fresh, strong cup of Arabica coffee, and read the latest news and stories from all corners of Thailand.
What I love most about my routine is that I can share my thoughts and understanding with all my clients when I meet them, which makes for good conversations especially for those related to private medical insurance. 'Sharing is caring' is what I like to say.
Now, as I was finishing my coffee I happened to come across an article on a newly introduced tourist tax. I am a real follower of anything to do with tourism in Thailand, so I couldn't resist reading the article until the very end.
‘Every foreign tourist traveling to Thailand is set to be charged 100 baht insurance fee as proposed by the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports’, was the title of the article.
At first, I couldn’t believe it was actually going to happen, but after reflecting on an article I recently wrote about ‘Thailand’s mandatory insurance for long stay visas’, it comes as no surprise that this announcement is making major shockwaves across the tourism, healthcare and insurance industries in the country.
But of course, before I go on, allow me to brief you on what I learned so we are on the same page.
MoTS and hospital cost
To start off, the MoTS is the Government department that has the highest authority for promoting and developing tourism, sports, education, recreation industries, and other government services as prescribed by the law.
The MoTS has been in the news a lot recently due to the impact tourism has been having on the country's natural havens and health system. Other than the detrimental effects of unsustainable tourism in places like Maya bay beach and many other spots across the country, the MoTS is having to deal with the problem of resolving the growing dilemma of tourists and travelers not being able to pay their medical bills after treatment.
The impact of tourists falling seriously ill or hospitalized due to accidents has been huge on the public health system. More of a financial burden than anything else as they cope to serve the rest of the population as well.
It was reported by health officials in March 2019 that a combined bill totaling 300 million THB was left unpaid as foreign travelers lacked appropriate medical insurance cover and simply could not afford to pay their excess medical bills. As we all know, the cost of treatment in Thailand can be high, whether or not you go to a public or private hospital. Hence why this announcement comes at a good time for all; a big win-win for tourists, government departments, health officials, and the insurance sector.
MoTS announces the 100 baht tourist insurance fee
So hopefully you will now understand why the government has finally made this announcement. To be very honest, 100 baht is minimal to what was actually going to be proposed in 2013. The Public Health Ministry back then proposed collecting a 500 baht fee from every foreign visitor who arrives by plane, but this proposal was ultimately mooted over concerns of its potential impact on tourist numbers.
However, fast forward six years the plan now is to collect 100 baht from every traveler entering Thailand, which would cover costs for emergencies and repatriation of tourists if they meet with misadventure.
The announcement was made late in May and would take up to six months to set up and implement. It was reported in the article that an estimated THB 3.8 billion will be raised from 38 million visitors, but that really depends on when this scheme will begin and the predicted numbers visiting in the future. Sources have predicted tourist numbers to reach 41 million in 2019 alone!
The money is said to be used to ease the burden on Thai taxpayers having to pay for tourists’ emergency medical treatment and repatriation of people who die while on holiday.
Travelers and health insurance
Tourists traveling to Thailand should, by all means, get travel insurance - especially a plan that covers you for emergency evacuations. Most tourists love to travel to the beautiful beaches in the south or hike up the remote mountains in the north. While the possibility of something going wrong is generally pretty slim, it's important to consider that there's still the chance of being struck with an illness or injury that ends your adventure. As such, travel insurance makes the best short term insurance solution for those traveling to Thailand.
Unless you have comprehensive travel or individual health insurance that covers you against high medical fees, you are most likely going to have to pay from your savings or request family support at home, which to be realistic are not options available to most people.
Is it worth waiting for?
As we do not know when this will happen or what the policy entails, it would be best to listen to my advice and secure health insurance coverage now if you plan to visit, or are already living in Thailand.
All in all, before I end my article for today, I would recommend you to do the following if you haven’t done so already:
If you are an expatriate living in Thailand, make the best decision to secure cheap, affordable health insurance during your stay.
If you have loved ones living with you, then be sure to secure health insurance for the whole family.
Expecting a newborn anytime soon? Then be sure to consider insurance plans that cover newborns in Thailand.
If you want to know more about which insurance plan you should get, talking to a broker, such as Pacific Prime Thailand, can be a great place to start. If you have anything you want to ask about travel, medical, maternity, or any other health-related insurance and matters, feel free to contact me or my team!