Foreign patients pay up to double for treatment Thailand

Health officials have instructed administrators at Thailand’s state hospitals to implement a new rate structure that significantly raises prices for non-citizens. This will affect, retirees and medical tourists the most.

The health ministry is enforcing the 2019 rate of public health services for patients of Thai nationality and the 2019 rate of public health services for foreign patients.

Under the new rules public hospitals must charge patients at four different tiers based on their legal status:

  • Thai nationals
  • Citizens of neighboring countries
  • Working foreigners on non-immigrant visas.
  • Tourists and overseas national retirees.

While foreigners from other ASEAN nations will pay the same rates as Thai nationals, they increase significantly for the third group, which includes most expats, while retirees and tourists pay much more, often double.

The ASEAN countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. 

An antibody screening, which would cost Thais and ASEAN residents THB130, will now cost expats THB190. Retirees and tourists will pay double, THB260 (US$8.6). A spinal MRI that costs Thais and their neighbors THB18,700 jumps to THB23,375 for working expats and THB28,050 (US$925) for retirees/tourists.

Dual pricing is not new in Thailand and foreigners have often complained of being charged more. Now public hospitals can justify their approach, in that they have to comply with national law.

Thailand’s medical tourism brought in an estimated THB18.4 billion (US$600 million) in 2018, but most international patients seek treatment at private hospitals.