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Handle with care: Hospital care for foreigners without travel insurance

Reports keep resurfacing of foreigners, expats and tourists alike, requiring hospital treatment despite the visitor having inadequate or no travel insurance at all. It seems that sometimes the government hospitals keep providing free medical care, while other times it seems they charge for their services. Here The Phuket News answers that vital question: What free medical care are foreigners entitled to?

QUESTION

My friend is traveling in Thailand and has been running a real high fever. It seems to be getting worse. He doesn’t have travel insurance or a lot of money, but needs to see a doctor. Is there any house call doctor services here that we can call to have a doctor can visit the patient in his hotel?

If so, how much will this service cost? If not, can we take him to government hospital and will they admit him or just send him to the expensive international hospital?
– Tasha, Phuket. 

ANSWER
– Dr Bancha Kakong, Director of the Phuket Provincial Health Office.

Any tourists who become quite ill or are seriously injured but do not have any travel insurance should just go to the nearest government hospital. It is the policy of every public hospital to take care of any patients who need medical care – not just Thai people, but also tourists, expats, migrant workers or anyone else who needs medical treatment.

Public hospitals do not provide house call services, but in case of emergency, please call 1669 for an ambulance to transport you to hospital. This service is free.

Callers must provide as much basic information as possible about the patient so that the medical staff responding to the call are well prepared by before they get there.

The Emergency Medical Service (EMS) in Phuket is one of the best in the country because of the huge variety of situations our staff have encountered in the past. Our EMS is provided by well-trained staff and well-equipped ambulances.

For now, all tourists with no travel insurance can receive medical treatment at a public hospital in Thailand, regardless whether or not they can afford to pay.

However, please note that not all medical treatment is provided free. If any payment is required, the public hospital staff will inform you of any expenses and discuss how the bill is to be settled.

For example, if you call an ambulance and the relevant officials at the hospital you are taken to deem that the ambulance call was not for an emergency, be prepared to be charged as per one of three EMS services as follows:

Phuket News

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