Thai government legalises dual pricing for expat treatment at public hospitals

Published:  4 Oct at 6 PM
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Retired expats in Thailand are now to be charged double the rates paid by Thais and ASEAN nationals for treatment at public hospitals.

Thailand’s ministry of health officials have now ordered administrators at the country’s public hospitals to charge non-Asean foreigners requiring diagnosis and treatment at least double the price charged to Thais and ASEAN citizens. The new rules became effective this week, and are being seen by the expat community as another blow to their human rights in the country.

The new law states four separate tiers for charges, with the first and cheapest applying to Thai nationals, the second to citizens of other Southeast Asian states, the third to working foreigners and the fourth to retirees and tourists. Foreigners from the second, Southeast Asian, group will pay the same amounts as Thai nationals, with working expats in the third group will pay more, but the swingeing increase for the fourth group of tourists and retirees will pay double or more than Thai nationals.

A slightly unfortunate example in one English language media outlet uses the HIV test to demonstrate the effect of the new law, with Thais and Asean citizens being charged 160 baht, working expats 190 baht and retirees or tourists being forced to pay 320 baht. At the high end, a spinal MRI costs the first group of Thais and ASEANs 18,700 baht, 23,350 baht for working expatriates and 28,050, (£737), for visitors and retirees. Dual pricing for foreigners visiting sites of interest including national parks has long been a controversial subject, with many long-term expats staying away as a result, but this is the first time the scam has been made law by a Thai government.

As a point of comparison for UK expats in Thailand, the cost of the same scan in the UK varies between £400 and £600, (15,200 to 22,800 baht), at a private clinic equivalent to a Thai public hospital, to over £2,000 at an exclusive private hospital in central London. Grabbing an off-season flight back to the home country plus a visit to a private clinic might well be the same or slightly cheaper than waiting in line at the local Thai public hospital, and the results would at least be in English!
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