Opinion: Thailand Launching Medical Coverage For Foreigners is Encouraging, But Won’t Apply to Many Incidents

Last week, the Thai government announced something that seemed to go under the radar of many of our readers and the media, perhaps drowned out a bit by the parole of Thaksin Shinawatra or neverending U-turns on the status of the Cannabis Draft Law.

That something is medical coverage for foreign tourists, with some conditions. Get a recap of the official press release from the Thai Government PR department here before reading further if you aren’t sure what we are referring to.

This is decent news but as always with programs like this, there are a lot of fine print and regulations. Quality personal health insurance from a reputable company would always be preferable to an official government plan, of course. However, the fact the government is even implementing this program at all is certainly a positive thing.

So, we covered the basics of the plan in another article as stated above, this article will mainly focus on what it won’t cover.

It won’t cover illegal or reckless behaviour. So despite being one of the most reported incidents in which foreigners need health insurance, if you were driving a motorbike without a proper license, helmet, vehicle insurance, registration, or under the influence while driving, or driving recklessly/speeding, you won’t be covered. Of course, this is the same with most health insurance plans but continues to be one of the things most brought up.

An example of an activity that almost certainly would not be covered

Carelessness is also not covered. So even if you have everything above but have an accident that police judge is your fault, you probably won’t be covered.

The incident needs to be submitted within fifteen days to the proper tourism authority division. If you aren’t fast, you won’t be approved. They say approval and funds should normally be processed within fifteen business days after that.

Since it doesn’t cover reckless behaviour, it’s pretty much a given that any accident that happened while under the influence of alcohol, such as falling off a balcony drunk, won’t be covered.

Getting in a drunken fight that was caused by one being intoxicated and coaxing others into a physical altercation also likely won’t be covered.

This also goes for any incident under the influence of marijuana, since technically it’s only supposed to be for medical usage.

The plan doesn’t cover risky behaviour, but also isn’t specific as to what this entails, leaving it to the discretion of the decision makers behind the plan. It is pretty much a given however that some of the more extreme or sports activities people occasionally participate in like jet skiing, white water rafting, free diving, skydiving, etc. are almost certainly not going to be covered.

So what is covered? Genuine accidents, such as being a passenger in a minivan or bus that has an accident. Natural disasters, such as a flash flood and similar situations. A crime, such as being mugged and assaulted for your valuables.

Regardless of the limitations, it is always good to have options when disaster strikes. We hope you enjoyed reading this!

Another activity that certainly would not be covered

The original version of this article appeared on our sister website, The Pattaya News, owned by our parent company TPN media.

Goongnang Suksawat
Goong Nang is a News Translator who has worked professionally for multiple news organizations in Thailand for many years and has worked with The Pattaya News for more than four years. Specializes primarily in local news for Phuket, Pattaya, and also some national news, with emphasis on translation between Thai to English and working as an intermediary between reporters and English-speaking writers. Originally from Nakhon Si Thammarat, but lives in Phuket and Krabi except when commuting between the three.