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Thailand International Health Insurance Advice

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  • Thailand Health Insurance Information


The last published data suggested that there were 0.3 doctors and 1.9 hospital beds for every 1000 people in Thailand in 1995.  Measured in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), each Thai resident was estimated in 2002 to have spent US$321 on health care every year.  Cumulatively, the spending amounted to 4.4% of the country's GDP (gross domestic product).  This amount is divided into public sector expenditure (57.1%) and private sector expenditure (42.9%). 

Most of the population has unrestricted access to potable water and sanitation.  One of the top diseases in Thailand is human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS).  In November 2004, according to the United Nations program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), a comprehensive program was embarked by the Thai government to contain the virus.  Consequently, it has successfully brought down national adult HIV prevalent rate to about 1.5% for the 15-49 age bracket population (or approximately 1.8% of total population). 

The death toll attributed to AIDS was estimated to be 58,000 (children and adult inclusive) since the first reported case in 1984.  There are government initiatives and also private groups (partially funded by government) to provide support to HIV/AIDS patients. 

The government programs usually encourage responsible behavior among its citizens however the practice of stigmatization of infected patients continues on the national level.  The country is also investing in antiretroviral drug program and as reported in September 2006, there were over 80,000 recipients of this drug.  On the other front, bird flue has also put a shadow on the country at its height (though it was pretty short lived), and traces of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been discovered on birds in the country and the region. 

A special fund was put aside by the government for preventive measures, which effectively deal with new poultry farming techniques.  The other top infectious diseases in Thailand are hepatitis, diarrhea, malaria, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, and leptospirosis.

 The country overhauled the healthcare system and brought on a universal coverage system in 2001, making it among the first lower-middle income countries to implement such system. This universal care (UC) replaced the old means-tested system previously designed to help lower income earners.

The first incarnation was referred to as the 30 baht project, which described the symbolic co-payment necessary for treatment services. Members of this insurance scheme would be handed a gold card which guarantees unlimited access in their health district, and, it is just as applicable for referral services like specialist treatment out of the local district.

The operating finances come from government, with Contracting Units for Primary Care taking charge of this fund. WHO, or World Health Organization, in its 2004 healthcare report stated that Thai government's investment on healthcare amounted to 65% of the country's total health care expenditure with 35% coming from private sector.

Of course, there were critics who found faults with the UC implementation; it was generally well accepted by poorer Thais, especially those in rural areas. The system withstood the change of government brought about by the 2006 military coup. Mongkol Na Songkhla, the Public Health Minister at that time, popularly scrapped the 30 baht co-payment and an entire free UC scheme descended on Thailand. However, Thailand just welcomed in the new coalition government in January 2008 and it is still uncertain if the free UC would stay.

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