Health plans for foreigners under review

The Ministry of Public Health on Thursday revealed it was seeking appropriate forms of health insurance for foreigners in preparation for the formation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong said after a meeting with members of the International Public Health Policy Committee that the ministry was pushing ahead with a plan to stabilise the health insurance system and ensure it covers all groups of people including foreigners in Thailand.

A long-term spending plan for a health-related budget would be jointly drawn up and implemented by the ministry and the Ministry of Finance to avoid excessive or unreasonable expenditures. 

Mr Pradit said the ministry was in the process of improving the public health service system to ensure more effectiveness. It will set up a national public health commission to drive the country’s health policies in the same direction. The prime minister will be the commission’s chairman and the health minister its secretary-general. 

On health care measures for foreigners in preparation for the AEC, the ministry will target three groups of foreign nationals: people from countries sharing borders with Thailand who seek medical treatment here; foreign (migrant) workers and expatriates and their families who are not under the social security system; and foreigners who require a visa to enter Thailand.   

For the first group, the ministry will set charges for those living along the borders and who enter the kingdom to seek medical treatment as a short-term measure. It will help to develop domestic health insurance systems in the neighbouring countries of Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia through international organisations including the World Health Organisation (WHO) in an attempt to encourage their citizens to receive medical services in their countries.

The ministry will also introduce a “health card” scheme in May. Foreign workers and expats would be urged to buy health cards for their newborn babies which would allow them to receive all the same health benefits as Thais.  

It was considering the pros and cons of an idea to sell travel health insurance for visitors in the third group to make sure the move does not affect tourism, Mr Pradit said.

Related search: Thailand, health insurance, foreigners

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