One of the Top 10 of The Best Places to Retire 2015, Thailand is a haven for older expats looking for sunshine, a relaxed way of living and a warm and friendly culture, not to mention low healthcare costs and quality medical care.
International Living magazine’s annual list of 25 ideal retirement retreats includes only two Asian countries, Thailand and Malaysia, and is based on the views of expats across the globe, in Europe, Asia and America.
Low Healthcare Costs
For foreigners coming to live in Thailand, the cost of private healthcare can be a real plus point. Compared to medical bills back home there is often no comparison; with access to specialists in world-renowned hospitals in Bangkok at a fraction of the cost.
Quality Private Healthcare
Not only are medical costs relatively low, the level of medical expertise, patient care and healthcare technology is high. Hospitals such as BNH, Bumrungrad and Samitivej are luxurious medical facilities with reputations for offering quality treatments to Thailand’s expat community and even expats in neighboring Southeast Asian countries.
So, if healthcare costs are relatively low in Thailand and the care is so superior, then I don’t need retirement health insurance, right? Wrong!
Instant access to healthcare at relatively affordable rates can lull many retirees into believing that they can settle into a life in Thailand whilst dipping into their own pockets for any medical expenses. With an abundance of over-the-counter medications and easy access to treatments Thailand can seem like an attractive option for older expats. However, what may begin as a Thai dream can soon turn into a financially crippling medical nightmare for the senior expat with no medical cover.
Medical Costs Can Quickly Spiral
With minor ailments, Thailand can seem like an affordable and accessible expat destination. Whether you need a scan or blood test, you can visit any private hospital and pretty much guarantee you will get what you want straightaway. However, inpatient care or medical attention for conditions which are serious, complex, or simply long-running can be costly and can really start to bump up the bill.
More Costs More Often
Even over 60s who are in good health may find that over time age brings with it more ailments. This equals more trips to the hospital and guess what? Paying out for medical expenses more often.
No Way Home
What if you need to get back to your homeland? Health insurance can include medical repatriation but without this you can be stranded in Thailand. Those retirees who simply want to be around loved ones in their own country or seek further medical support at home, may find that they lack the financial ability to get home when they want to if they have been paying out to hospitals in Thailand instead of covering quantifiable costs with annual health insurance.
Hospital Costs Are Rising
With the influx of medical tourism in Thailand, both medically for specialist cancer treatment, for example, and cosmetic procedures, demand is rising, as is quality. Alongside this, what was once really affordable medical care is fast becoming more expensive in Thailand. Retirees without health insurance need to wise up about the real costs of healthcare in Thailand today not based on some back-in-the-day notion of the past.