The Thai healthcare system


Thailand has a surprisingly good healthcare system and it has become one of the major “medical tourism” destinations worldwide. In general, you can obtain good medical treatment for a lower cost than in many other countries.

Doctors, dentists and opticians are readily available in Thailand. Doctors and staff in the larger hospitals generally understand English.

Most doctors in Thailand are specialists and do not have one specific place of work. They work at different hospitals and private clinics that can be spread all over the region. Due to this, you may have to consult various specialists for long-term treatments.

Expatriate health insurance

Expatriates in Thailand are not covered by state health insurance. If you do not want to pay for medical treatment yourself, you will need to buy private health insurance.

Some larger companies provide employees with life insurance and health insurance packages. International schools normally offer only basic health insurance. This basic health insurance does not cover maternity costs such as prenatal medical visits and birth.

Emergencies in Thailand

The emergency number in Thailand is 191. Although emergency transport in Thailand is not yet fully developed, large hospitals in Thailand have mobile intensive care ambulances where you can obtain immediate treatment. However, you will rarely see an ambulance racing through the streets of Thai cities.

Non-profit health organisations

Thailand has a variety of organisations set up to help disadvantaged people in Thailand. These include the Red Cross, World Vision and Médecins Sans Frontières. Most of the rescue ambulances are provided by volunteer organizations.

Pharmacies in Thailand

Medications and pharmacies are widely available throughout. Usually, you do not have to present a prescription. You can get common used drugs antibiotics, anti-depression medication, Viagra etc. all without prescription. In many cases this may not have been strictly according to the law, but in practice there were no obstacles in obtaining what you wanted.

Do not expect much advise from a average pharmacist. Many pharmacists simply perform the function of a salesperson. This may be fine if you know about your medication. Otherwise, you may also consult a hospital pharmacy (which charge slightly more for drugs).

Further reading

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