Retired expats in Thailand in fight for affordable private healthcare insurance

Published:  16 Apr at 6 PM
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Expat retirees living in a number of popular Thailand destinations are pressing for dedicated group private healthcare insurance coverage.

A group of retired Swedish expats living in Bangkok, Udon Thani province, Hua Hin and Phuket have banded together in an attempt to find a solution to a major problem affecting retirees - the soaring cost of individual private health insurance and the ever-increasing charges by private hospitals for their services. Thailand is home to a large number of long-stay elderly expats, many of whom were formerly able to afford private insurance but now cannot due to swingeing price hikes by local and international insurers.

The initial aim of the group was to persuade the Swedish government to provide state-subsidised private health insurance for expats who’ve retired to Thailand, at the same level as it does for its expatriate nationals in the rest of Europe. Since its inception, the move has attracted widespread interest from Thailand’s international expat community, with its creator Eric Dohlon working with Bangkok Insurance Brokers Ltd (BIB)to get enough support to provide private healthcare insurance to all foreign retirees in the Kingdom.

According to Dohlon, BIB is cooperating with a number of Thai-registered insurance firms, with the group planning to choose one to start with, including others once demand is high enough. He’s ensuring that, no matter how many insurance firms become involved, coverage and benefits will be the same across the board. The critical factor in getting the scheme up and running was 1,000 names in its support, with some 2,000 now registered since last Tuesday. The policy proposed at present is expected not to cost more than 2,000 baht a month, or 25,000 baht per year.

The major problem for many elderly expats living in Thailand as regards private healthcare insurance is that they can’t now afford it or can’t get it at any price due to pre-existing conditions or age. Many Thai insurers won’t touch expats over 70 years, old, no matter how healthy they’ve been over their lives. It’s estimated that more than 60,000 expat retirees are part of the total foreigner numbers in Thailand on long-stay visas, believed to be as high as 227,000, with an unknown number having no healthcare insurance.
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