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Handle with care: Hospital care for foreigners without travel insurance

PHUKET: Reports keep resurfacing of foreigners, expats and tourists alike, requiring hospital treatment despite the visitor having inadequate or no travel insurance at all. It seems that sometimes the government hospitals keep providing free medical care, while other times it seems they charge for their services. Here The Phuket News answers that vital question: What free medical care are foreigners entitled to?

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By The Phuket News

Wednesday 6 January 2016, 09:00AM


For now, tourists without travel insurance can get some free basic hospital care.

For now, tourists without travel insurance can get some free basic hospital care.

QUESTION

My friend is traveling in Thailand and has been running a real high fever. It seems to be getting worse. He doesn’t have travel insurance or a lot of money, but needs to see a doctor. Is there any house call doctor services here that we can call to have a doctor can visit the patient in his hotel?

If so, how much will this service cost? If not, can we take him to government hospital and will they admit him or just send him to the expensive international hospital?

– Tasha, Phuket.

 

ANSWER

Any tourists who become quite ill or are seriously injured but do not have any travel insurance should just go to the nearest government hospital. It is the policy of every public hospital to take care of any patients who need medical care – not just Thai people, but also tourists, expats, migrant workers or anyone else who needs medical treatment.

Public hospitals do not provide house call services, but in case of emergency, please call 1669 for an ambulance to transport you to hospital. This service is free.

Callers must provide as much basic information as possible about the patient so that the medical staff responding to the call are well prepared by before they get there.

The Emergency Medical Service (EMS) in Phuket is one of the best in the country because of the huge variety of situations our staff have encountered in the past. Our EMS is provided by well-trained staff and well-equipped ambulances.

For now, all tourists with no travel insurance can receive medical treatment at a public hospital in Thailand, regardless whether or not they can afford to pay.

Central Phuket

However, please note that not all medical treatment is provided free. If any payment is required, the public hospital staff will inform you of any expenses and discuss how the bill is to be settled.

For example, if you call an ambulance and the relevant officials at the hospital you are taken to deem that the ambulance call was not for an emergency, be prepared to be charged as per one of three EMS services as follows:

1. First Responder Service for minor health concern, about B300.

2. Basic Life Support Service for moderate health concern, about B600.

3. Advance Life Support Service for serious health concern, about B1,000.

Hospital staff will do their best to make sure that free medical services are provided free, but that any other services are charged. The relevant official will discuss whatever payment options are possible with you.

This issue is a growing concern. Last year, the Royal Thai Government spent about B420 million covering the medical costs of tourists who had no travel insurance.

Also, about 25,000 tourists visited Phuket’s main medical facility, Patong Hospital, in the past year. The number of these patients who were covered by medical insurance was estimated at less than 1,000.

Thailand, and especially health officials in Phuket, are currently pushing to introduce compulsory travel insurance by law. Very soon, all tourists who want to enter Thailand must have travel insurance.

– Dr Bancha Kakong, Director of the Phuket Provincial Health Office.

 

 

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Rorii | 06 January 2016 - 17:56:35

I'm a bit suspicious about less than 1000 had travel insurance especially when "Thailand, and especially health officials in Phuket, are currently pushing to introduce compulsory travel insurance by law." However, even if true, Thailand/Phuket make so much out of tourism, health care should be free, another thing, the article only mentions insurance, it says NOTHING about people who ...

nemrut | 06 January 2016 - 14:30:55

His point, though not obvious, is that a lot of farangs come to Thailand and abuse the system by taking advantage of its services and infrastructure without paying a dime.

Aachen | 06 January 2016 - 09:39:01

Dear marklouisw,
what is your point?

slippery snake | 06 January 2016 - 09:21:03

Good Idea, make all tourists have travel insurance,  sure tourists bring in a huge amount of money in to Phuket, but 24,000 people needing free care at hospital,  must be a big drain that can easily be blocked.  

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