The government is considering forcing foreigners to buy health insurance before traveling to Thailand.
Public health minister Pradit Sinthawanarong said that 2.5 million foreigners out of a total of 22 million visitors appeared at Thai hospitals last year, but a significant minority were unable to pay which resulted in a financial burden for local hospitals. He explained that the main problems concerned foreigners hospitalized in emergencies, especially traffic accidents and heart attacks, and the costs associated with taking care of corpses, particularly autopsies and cold storage.
The situation is particularly acute in tourist-dominated resorts. The state-run Banglamung Hospital, near Pattaya, estimated that unpaid bills from foreigners amounted to 2 million baht in 2012. The government Vachira Phuket Hospital claims that free treatment for foreigners is costing them 3 million baht a year. Total costs nationwide are in the region of 70 million baht annually.
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