Medical services have improved in Thailand over the past two decades, both in terms of availability and overall quality, and this is particularly true in areas that have become favoured by expats. However, the country still spends a relatively meagre 5% of its GDP on healthcare, and there are a few things that you need to be aware of before you visit.
There is a Shortage of General Practitioners (GPs)
One of the main problems with the Thai healthcare system is that there is generally a significant shortage of GPs. Most doctors in the country prefer to specialise, so it can be tough to find a GP who will deal with minor medical problems. This often means being forced to go to a hospital to check on something, even though a visit to the GP would normally be fine. For this reason, you need to look for an insurance company that offers a 24-hour helpline to provide advice and suggest nearby facilities.
Traffic Delays Emergency Services
Many parts of Thailand, especially the big cities, have a serious traffic problem, and vehicles often fail to pull over for ambulances. This means that emergency services often have a hard time getting to patients and then transporting them to hospitals as quickly as possible. For expats with existing health conditions that might necessitate immediate medical attention, it is recommended to live close to a good local hospital.
Going Private is a Must
In most Western countries, private healthcare can be considered a luxury, but it’s best not to rely upon Thai public hospitals; the standard of care is not bad, but staff are less likely to speak English and considerable waiting times are probable. In contrast, private hospitals are usually staffed by medical professionals who received their training at a Western university. The costs associated with visiting such facilities tend to be far lower than those you would expect from a private hospital back in the United Kingdom.
You should also make sure that you and any dependents are covered by a private healthcare plan. This should provide access to quality care through private facilities.