Living in Thailand?
Health and Education in Thailand
Health Insurance for Expats: Private Insurance — The Preferred Choice
Thailand’s national health insurance plans do not always include expats, and they don’t cover high-quality private healthcare, either. Therefore most expats take out a private insurance policy.
These healthcare plans are often provided by multinationals or US American companies. Of course, there are Thai insurance companies with private healthcare plans as well. However, the language barrier with its resulting problems of getting an English-language policy and contract deter many expatriates from making use of this possibility.
No matter where you are insured, make sure to have your insurance papers and enough cash at hand when you go and see a doctor at a clinic. Unless it’s an emergency, you are usually expected to pay upfront and be reimbursed by your insurance later.
While merely consulting a doctor costs at least 800 to 1,500 THB, a private clinic with an international department may require you to make a large deposit in advance before staying for stationary treatment.
Medical Facilities: Public Hospitals vs. Private Clinics
Despite the higher expenses, expatriates indeed prefer private medical services providers, the quality of whose care is often excellent. Public hospitals, on the other hand, tend to be understaffed and underfunded.
When you choose a clinic, ask whether they have a family doctor for consultations. There is a shortage of general practitioners in Thailand, but you may prefer not to consult a specialist for every complaint.
You can find a list of clinics (including dental clinics) in Bangkok via Allianz Worldwide Care.
If you need an ambulance and would like to avoid a government clinic, do not phone 191 (the general emergency number in Thailand). Instead, call the hospital of your choice directly. Below, there’s a contact list of four local hospitals that are especially popular in the expatriate community.
- Bumrungrad Hospital
33 Sukhumvit 3 (Soi Nana Nua)
Wattana Bangkok 10110
+66 2 667 1000
- Bangkok Nursing Home Hospital
9/1 Convent Road
Silom Bangrak Bangkok 10500
+66 2 686 2700
- Samitivej Hospital (Srinakarin)
488 Srinakarin Road
Suanluang Bangkok 10250
+66 2378 9000
- Samitivej Hospital (Sukhumvit)
133 Sukhumvit 49
Klong Tan Nua
Wattana Bangkok 10110
+66 2711 8000
Nine years of public education is mandatory in Thailand. Although a pre-school education is not obligatory, many Thai children attend a kindergarten or daycare center. After that, they go to primary school for six years and to a lower-level secondary school for another three years.
When the mandatory schooling is over, they have the opportunity to move on to upper secondary education. This is provided by either an academic institution or one that focuses on vocational training.
The graduates from an academic upper secondary frequently become university students. A course at a Thai university (e.g. Chulalongkorn University, Chiang Mai University, or Mahidol University) usually takes them four years for a Bachelor’s degree. Some subjects, such as education or medical school, require five or six years.
While the language of instruction is Thai for most university classes, Thailand’s biggest and most prestigious universities offer some English-language courses as well, e.g. MBA degrees for international students.
Unfortunately, many public schools in Thailand suffer from underfunding and an accordingly bad student-teacher ratio. However, often the language barrier is the main reason why most expat kids attend private international schools. There the language of instruction is either English or their mother tongue.
All international schools are required to instruct their students in the Thai language and Thai culture. That way, expat children still gain an insight into their host country’s language and culture.
Most international schools in Thailand are situated somewhere in the Bangkok Metropolitan Area. Unfortunately, the latest official directory of international schools in Thailand as provided by the Thailand Ministry of Education dates back to 2004.
However, there are definitely international schools in Bangkok which cater to the needs of Australian, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Swiss, and US American expat communities (among others). For instance, the KIS Bangkok and Ruamrudee International School are international schools offering the International Baccalaureate. Aside from that, there are a few (mostly English-language) international schools in Chiang Mai, in Pattaya, and on Phuket, among other places.
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