Thailand’s universal healthcare covers gender-affirming surgery, NHSO confirms

National Health Security Office (NHSO) Secretary-General, Jadet Thammathataree, clarified that Gender-Affirming Surgery (GAS), commonly referred to as sex reassignment surgery, is covered under Thailand’s universal healthcare scheme for patients diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

This clarification comes as an exception to the rule that excludes cosmetic surgeries from the scheme, leading to confusion about whether GAS is considered a cosmetic procedure, said Jadet.

“The universal healthcare scheme covers GAS for treatment purposes if patients are diagnosed with gender dysphoria.”

He asserted that for such patients, the operation is deemed a medical necessity, not a cosmetic choice. Citing a 2020 instance, Jadet mentioned that a hospital performed GAS on a patient, and the NHSO approved the operation cost as it was seen as a necessary treatment.

Approximately 100 individuals undergo GAS annually. Those diagnosed with intersexuality and needing to correct their atypical genitalia can also benefit from the healthcare scheme, he said.

However, a crucial step to avail of this benefit is getting a psychiatrist’s diagnosis. If the psychiatrist determines that untreated gender dysmorphia poses a psychological or emotional risk, the operation’s approval is likely. Jadet further specified that any gender-affirming surgery undertaken without a medical diagnosis would fall under the category of plastic surgery.

The NHSO is also planning to introduce a comprehensive service package soon. This package would include mental care, hormonal treatment, facial feminisation procedures, breast surgery, and vaginoplasty, reported Bangkok Post.

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin mandated the country’s health minister, Cholnan Srikaew, to assemble a committee aimed at improving services provided under the universal healthcare scheme. According to government spokesman, Chai Wacharonke, the prime minister’s objective is to simplify access to healthcare services for the public.

An example of the impending changes to the universal healthcare scheme includes eliminating the necessity for patients to initially visit their registered hospitals for medical attention.

The proposal is to digitise the referral service, reducing the paperwork for patients needing to be transferred to another facility for treatment. However, patients would still need a referral document. To read more click HERE.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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