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Make travel insurance compulsory, say voters in Phuket poll

PHUKET: A majority of people who took part in an online poll by The Phuket News have called for introducing mandatory travel insurance for all tourists entering Thailand.

tourism, health, economics,

The Phuket News

Monday 26 June 2017, 10:15AM

Passengers are screened on arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport during heightened MERS health alert in 2015. Photo: AFP
Passengers are screened on arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport during heightened MERS health alert in 2015. Photo: AFP

The poll, held over two weeks, was posted online after a report by the Bangkok Post earlier this month cited an “informed source” that the proposal was to be forwarded for consideration by the national tourism policy commission. (See story here.)

The concept is not new, and initially surfaced in 2013. (See story here.)

In that push, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) worked with private insurance companies to create a policy that cost only B650 but provided medical coverage of up to B1 million. (See story here.)

However, apparently that coverage was not attractive enough, and in 2015 the Royal Thai Government spent about B420 million covering the medical costs of tourists who had no travel insurance.

Currently, any visitors to Thailand – including tourists and expats staying on non-immigrant visas – are entitled to receive free medical treatment at government hospitals, though there are limits on which medical treatments are free. (See Q&A here.)

To all this, The Phuket News asked readers, “Should travel insurance be made compulsory for visitors to Thailand?”

A total of 56% of respondents voted, “Yes, all travellers should have insurance and any country tourists visit should not have to pick up the tab for medical expenses during their time inside the country.”

British International School, Phuket

Meanwhile, 30% of respondents voted, “No, leave the system as it is. Most tourists have travel insurance, and the only tourists the government is providing medical care to are those receiving public health care… This is the price of hosting tourists.”

A further 14% of respondents voted, “No, and the government should not pick up the bill, as other countries let injured and sick tourists pay their own hospital fees.”

Of note, 47.92% of all Thai nationals who took part in the poll supported the call for mandatory health insurance, as did 55.14% of local expatriate residents.

However, likely to be of more importance to tourism officials is that 64.81% of those reporting themselves as a “Foreign visitor to Phuket” also supported the call for compulsory health insurance for tourists entering Thailand.

For the full poll results, click here.

To see the results of our previous poll, asking “Do the current penalties deter people from breaking the traffic laws?”, click here.

If you have a suggestion for a poll, email with “Poll Suggestion” in the Subject line.



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marcher | 26 June 2017 - 18:51:36

I thought that the recent ruling was that All hospitals were obliged to treat emergency patients. I know there was then a problem in that some hospitals would only treat ann emergency as a 'near death' experience

The Phuket News

Foot | 26 June 2017 - 17:15:28

There is much talk worldwide about hospitals having a difficult time making enough money to survive.  The blame is placed on all the patients that can’t, or don’t, pay their bills.  Have no fear.  Any properly managed hospital makes enough money.  But, how?  First, you have to understand the basic billing policies of hospital.

For example, let’s say 10 people have a procedure.  These 10 pay the bill through insurance or self pay.  $10,000 is collected.  In addition to the 10, let’s add 5 who can’t pay.  To pay for them, the first 10 are charged $15,000, which is still paid.  The hospital does more procedures and still nets $1,000 each.  As a result, all those that can pay, pay more through higher insurance rates or self pay.  Every procedure, all work provided, is billed using the average needed to be profitable.

This balancing act certainly isn’t easy.  It requires a talented hospital administration.  Any hospital that can’t consistently show a profit isn’t doing it correctly.  Sure, some lose money, but, except for surprise exceptions, it is the fault of the hospital administration.  As in all business’, sometimes the bosses aren’t very good.

So, the next time you hear a Hospital Administrator saying the hospital can’t make money, understand, that they mean they don’t know how to run the place.

Time to fire the boss.

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