Do International Schools Require Health Insurance for all Children?

Health insurance generally has been a hot topic of conversation in Thailand for some time. However, for long-term ex-pats, the lines can sometimes become blurred about what is required, especially for those with families. While there is always conjecture and people willing to offer opinions rather than facts, we will try to answer your questions regarding what is required for all children in all international schools.

International schools, particularly the top international school in Thailand, have strict policies regarding what they expect from their students, including health insurance. In this article, we are focusing on international schools and not bilingual or state-run schools, which are likely to have different rules. However, we recommend that everyone looks into Expat health insurance to give them that added peace of mind.

Is it a legal requirement?

It is not a legal requirement for all students to have health insurance in international schools, but most schools will insist on it. Students who hold foreign passports will be required to have at the least the minimum amount of coverage that the international school stipulates, although the same is not a requirement of Thai passport holders. As such, some schools will allow Thai children not to have health insurance, although they are very much in the minority and are becoming increasingly rare. The reality is that most Thai parents who send their children to international school will have family cover anyway, so the matter rarely gets raised.

Do international boarding schools require all children to have medical insurance?

If your son or daughter is a boarder at an international school, they will be required to have private medical insurance regardless of nationality. Naturally, this is because they will be away from home for long periods and under the care and responsibility of the school. Individual schools will have their own rules regarding the amount of cover needed, but it is likely to be much higher than merely basic coverage.

Do the schools offer health insurance?

Many international schools do include insurance in their fees, while others offer discounted insurance packages for students as part of a group scheme. However, the level of cover is often minimal and frequently fails to cover all hospital bills. While group schemes are excellent for providing some cover, it is always worth establishing what is included in the policy. The insurance will often only cover students while they are on the school’s premises, which is rarely ideal. Some international schools offer excellent insurance packages, so our advice would always be to read the small print.

Why should you take out private medical insurance for children?

As we have outlined above, many insurance policies that are provided or offered by schools only offer limited coverage, which is often insufficient. Statistics prove that children, especially younger children, are more likely to need hospital care than adults. As most accidents happen at home and most people are taken ill at home, having insurance that only cover pupils when they are at school is not fit for purpose.

Private medical insurance will give you the peace of mind that you won’t have to worry about the cost if your child does need medical attention. Like the rest of the world, medical costs in Thailand are spiralling, and the cost of healthcare in Thailand can longer be viewed as “cheap”. No one would want their child not to receive the care they need and deserve, nor would they want to ask friends and family for financial support. Many insurance packages are available for families or solely for children.

Why do I need to read the small print?

We would advise all parents to read the small print carefully, including points relating to “pre-existing conditions”. Most policy documents are pretty transparent on what is included in the cover, for example, inpatient coverage of THB1 million and THB50,000 doctors fees. However, there are often exclusions or premiums charged for specific treatments, so when you compare quotes, you need to ensure that you are comparing like for like. Should the worst happen, the last thing you want to worry about is finding monies to pay for treatment.

What do the terms “inpatient only” and “comprehensive cover” mean?

Most insurance companies will offer these two forms of cover. Inpatient means that your child would need to be admitted to the hospital before the insurance companies agree to pay. Costs, such as for an MRI scan, should your child need one as an outpatient would need to be the policyholder’s responsibility. Comprehensive cover means that the insurance company would pay for outpatient treatment such as the MRI mentioned above scan. However, with comprehensive cover, there may be exclusions, so read the small print! Of course, the inpatient-only cover is cheaper, so you need to weigh up the costs against benefits.

What does “excess (deductible)” mean?

The excess sometimes referred to as a deductible, is the amount that you would need to pay. For example, if you had an excess of THB100,000, you would need to pay the first THB100,000 of the medical fees incurred. It is different to “co-pay”, where you pay a fixed amount for a doctor’s appointment or prescription. They are both a way of reducing the premiums, but you should be comfortable and in a position to pay the excess if required.

Should we take out local or expat insurance?

When foreigners first come to Thailand, if their employer doesn’t provide insurance, they always want to know whether it is best to take out local insurance or insurance design specifically for expats. In reality, the answer to this will depend very much on your family’s circumstances and whether you plan to travel to other countries. Expat insurance usually has higher levels of cover, while local insurance is cheaper.

For those working outside Thailand with a child attending boarding school in Thailand, you should undoubtedly take out expat insurance, but if all your family is living in the Kingdom, you could explore both options. If you are unsure which is best for you, we would recommend speaking to an insurance expert.