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Is prescription drug, dental, and vision insurance really necessary in Thailand?


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I am a retired U.S. citizen that has recently moved to Thailand with my wife that has dual U.S./Thai citizenship.

Part of my retirement plan is full medical, dental, vision, and prescription drug insurance coverage for myself and my wife. I pay no premiums for this. If I pass away before my wife, my wife will continue to be covered for the rest of her life.

While the medical portion of my coverage can be used worldwide, with many “Network Provider” hospitals throughout Thailand, my prescription drug, vision and dental coverage can only be used in the U.S.

Since we have unlimited hospital inpatient and outpatient coverage, is getting a supplemental prescription drug, dental or vision insurance coverage necessary? I know the cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. can be crazy expensive, and I’ve know several people in the U.S. that have visited Thailand to get their dental work done because the cost is so low.

Also to consider is that my wife, being a Thai citizen, could take advantage of the Thai government system for medications, no?

I am 67 years old and my wife is 57 years old and neither of us are taking medications for any chronic conditions. Just an occasional headache or stomach ache medication.

Thanks.

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Thanks to you all for the feedback. Much appreciated. As I suspected, but wanted confirmation from those that know.

I just kept thinking back to my parents after they had retired. My mother had some sort of heart condition which required her to be on medications for the rest of her life. I remember her telling me that her entire retirement income went to paying for her medications, so they had to live off of what little income my father had. Such is life in the U.S. for some.

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1 hour ago, Sheryl said:

No, not worth getting these supplemental covers here. And I do not know of anywhere that would offer it for Thailand.

 

Almost all drugs can be bought at a pharmacy without prescription and Thailand has a robust pharmaceutical industry that produces very inexpensive generics of most common drugs.

 

Do however avoid buying drugs from hospital pharmacies as there is a huge mark up. Unless the drug is a narcotic, tranquilizer or steroid, it is probably sold over the counter and you will save a great deal by buying at a phamacy.

 

It is worthwhile getting familiar with good pharmacies in your area....i.e. large Thai pharmacies with "real" pharmacists on duty (less common than one might think).

 

Yes, s a Thai citizen your wife can get free care inclusive of medications, at the government hospital which covers the area where she is registered in a tabian ban.

 

Dental work is also quiet affordable here with the notable exception of things require prodthetics not made in country e.g. implants and crowns. Would certainly not be worth getting special dental insurance even if you could find it.

It should be noted the 'hospital pharmacy'  which  dispenses drugs and bills  is not the same as a pharmacy  located  at the  hospital. In the case of BPH The pharmacy  on the  ground floor is as cheap as street pharmacies such as Fascia etc

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Look at your US medical policy. I have BC/BS and it covers my pharmaceuticals only if purchased in the hospital pharmacy. I tried to tell them that I could buy cheaper outside but they said no, only hospital medications from the hospital pharmacy are acceptable for coverage. 

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The hospitals here have their own pharmacies.  When you see a doctor and he wants you to have medication you will pay for it and receive it at the hospital.  Private hospitals here charge more for medications than pharmacies outside.  Government hospitals are far cheaper.  There are no prescriptions given here.

Lots of medicine you can just go to a pharmacy and tell them what you want.  Some drugs are controlled though and can only be obtained from a hospital.

Lots of people here when they have a problem just go to the pharmacy and tell them what is wrong and the pharmacy gives them medicine for the problem.

Saves paying for a doctor that way.   So perhaps your insurance would cover the medicine a hospital gives you since it is all on one bill.

 

Just for reference, where I live, seeing a doctor in a private hospital cost about $1.50.  At a private hospital around $15, not including tests and medications.  But the private hospital I use, Bangkok Hospital, charges a lot more in other areas.  Specially where there are lots of foreigners living.  Government hospitals tend to be more crowded, hectic, not as clean, and lots of areas with no air conditioning.

 

Couple of dental costs here for reference too.  A root canal and crown costs around $700. A dental implant around $1,600.  Again prices can vary quite abit depending on where you are located and where you go.

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As mentioned earlier, most medications are available over the counter.  Find a pharmacy with a good pharmacist and you shouldn’t have any problems.  In the US my blood pressure medication and the drops for glaucoma required a prescription.  I get the same here over the counter at the same cost or lowere thana my copay back in the US.  

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Check if drugs issued by hospital may be covered by your medical insurance.  Suspect not if prescription drugs is a separate policy but in my case of FEP/BlueCross they can be paid on doctor/hospital bill or a separate claim from pharmacy (using different claims forms).

 

There is normally no dental or vision insurance here.

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I have the exact same type of coverage you do at a discounted rate per month.  It covers me anywhere domestically and internationally.  This is from my previous Federal job.  The premiums are deducted from my pension each month.  You are very lucky you pay no premiums. 
I have some health issues so I use my

medical coverage frequently.  I personally would not be without medical coverage anywhere. You never know what will happen.    I’m almost 67 years old now. And have lived in Bangkok for about a little over two years.   Since age 65,  I do not have to pay co-pays or anything else anymore regarding medical treatment.  It’s covered at 100%.  And I choose not to go to government hospitals. 
The prescription plan I don’t use here.  I submitted for reimbursement once.  The amount I received back here was minimal.  Same with my vision and dental plans. 
If you are staying here long term.  You probably should get rid of anything except medical.  I still have everything.  Because my plan is to leave by the middle of next year 

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1 hour ago, rwill said:

Just for reference, where I live, seeing a doctor in a private hospital cost about $1.50.  At a private hospital around $15, not including tests and medications.

The first part should have been government hospital costs about $1.50.

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Be aware that Thailand is a developing country and their medicine is

about 20 years behind that of other wealthy country. 

 

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"Since we have unlimited hospital inpatient and outpatient coverage, ....

.... is getting a supplemental prescription drug, dental or vision insurance coverage necessary? "

 

Doesn't the 1st half answer the 2nd half ?

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12 minutes ago, KhunLA said:

"Since we have unlimited hospital inpatient and outpatient coverage, ....

.... is getting a supplemental prescription drug, dental or vision insurance coverage necessary? "

 

Doesn't the 1st half answer the 2nd half ?

No, since his OPD cover would not include dental and vision and might also not include medications.

 

In the US, most drugs are prescription- only and gotten from a pharmacy (not given at the hospital or clinic or doctor's office) and costs are very high, so it is the norm to have separate insurance just for this. Completely different situation in Thailand, of course.

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16 hours ago, lopburi3 said:

Check if drugs issued by hospital may be covered by your medical insurance.  Suspect not if prescription drugs is a separate policy but in my case of FEP/BlueCross they can be paid on doctor/hospital bill or a separate claim from pharmacy (using different claims forms).

 

There is normally no dental or vision insurance here.

Good point,  I was thinking this as well, since the norm here is for drugs to be provided by the clinic or hospital at time of OPD visit rather than a script issued. So it would be on the OPD bill from the hospital or clinic, and possible OP's insurance would cover it.

 

Those of us without OPD cover (which is most of us) always refuse meds from a private hospital in favor of buying them ourselves at a pharmacy (which does not usually  require a script) because cost is much less. The only time I take meds from hospital is if it is discharge meds after hospitalization, or meds provided during a post-hospitalization follow up visit since in both those instances it is covered under by my inpatient insurance.

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On 5/26/2022 at 3:58 PM, lopburi3 said:

in my case of FEP/BlueCross they can be paid on doctor/hospital bill

Thank you. I'll be looking into this.

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10 hours ago, Sheryl said:

Those of us without OPD cover (which is most of us) always refuse meds from a private hospital in favor of buying them ourselves at a pharmacy

Thank you for pointing this out. I will be giving my insurance company a call to clarify where the line is drawn between my hospital coverage and my prescription drug plan when it comes to medications. Sounds like I may be accepting drugs offered by the hospital with the hope that my insurance will then cover it.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/26/2022 at 7:16 AM, Sheryl said:

Do however avoid buying drugs from hospital pharmacies as there is a huge mark up. Unless the drug is a narcotic, tranquilizer or steroid, it is probably sold over the counter and you will save a great deal by buying at a phamacy.

I think that you may need to specify that your observations are primarily for private hospitals, (just possibly some public ones in a few areas). My blood pressure medication (2 morning 1 evening) and a daily statin cost about  ฿4.8 per day or ฿450 for 3 a month supply from my local hospital pharmacy so I doubt that I could save much if anything by using a different pharmacy..

 

I certainly could be totally wrong IDK, TIT, YMMV.

Edited by sometimewoodworker
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