Connect with us


Phuket hospitals reject migrant insurance

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Financial difficulties in the healthcare system is leading to pregnant migrant workers in Phuket Province being denied access to Universal Coverage (UC) health insurance scheme when they deliver babies.

Usually migrant workers in Thailand are allowed to buy health insurance in order to get access to affordable services while living in the Kingdom, paying 2,100 baht annually for UC insurance. That insurance is equivalent to coverage under the 30 baht scheme widely used by citizens.

However, many migrant workers’ families in Phuket face bankruptcy due to medical expenses incurred after having a baby, as they have to pay the full cost of health services. The Provincial Public Health Office has stated that hospitals will be overburdened with expenses if it allows pregnant workers to buy insurance.

Mu Mu Ten, a 38-year-old Myanmar migrant worker and mother of two children, wept when asked about the condition of her youngest child, who was born just a week ago with lung problems and is still in the hospital.

The serious illness affecting her newborn son was not the only cause of her distress; her family is now mired in a financial crisis due to the medical expenses.

“My child was born premature. His weight was only 1,300 grams and his lungs are not fully functional. He is now being treated at Vachira Phuket Hospital and the doctor said he needs to be in intensive medical care for at least one month,” Ms Mu said.

She said expenses from the health problems of her newborn added to the cost of a Caesarean-section operation amounted to at least 100,000 baht owed to the hospital, even though she has valid UC insurance, which is meant to cover expenses related to giving birth.

“I had to borrow money from my employer and my friends to pay for this expense. I’ve managed to pay 60,000 baht, but there is another 40,000 remaining,” she said, adding that her husband earns just 350 baht per day.

She said her employer would deduct 2,000 baht from her salary twice a month towards repayment of the debt, while the family also has to pay back money borrowed from friends at an interest rate of 20 per cent.

“We don’t know what to do. We have to pay to keep our son alive and we just keep working to pay the debt,” she said.

Some women are forced to abandon their babies at hospitals as they’re being denied the universal health coverage.

Sumana Pakburawat, coordinator of Migrant Worker’s Network in Phuket (MNP), said Ms Mu was only one example among many Myanmar migrant workers in Phuket who suffered the same fate.

“Every month, there are around 100 cases of migrant workers giving birth in public hospitals in Phuket who are unable to use their rights specified by their UC insurance. Among these, there are 10 cases of mothers abandoning their child at the hospital every year because they have no money to pay for the medical expenses. This has been a serious and chronic problem in Phuket for almost six years now,” Ms Sumana said.

She said many pregnant migrant workers were also unable to renew or buy UC insurance at Phuket’s public hospitals, which obstruct them from seeking proper medical care during pregnancies and force them to pay the full cost of medical expenses.

According to the MNP, there are around 300,000 migrant workers in Phuket, nearly half of whom have not registered with authorities or have UC insurance.

Meanwhile, Dr Prapornsri Narinrak, Phuket Provincial Public Health Office deputy director, said that the Public Health Ministry had a policy to help migrant workers receive affordable medical services. However, it is also the duty of each hospital to properly manage its finances to ensure the survival of the hospital.

“We treat every patient coming to us and in many cases we allow them to get free medical services at the hospital’s expense as humanitarian aid for those in need,” Dr Prapornsri said, adding that last year public hospitals in Phuket spent up to 4.6 million baht on such cases.

She admitted that public hospitals in Phuket had a policy not to sell UC insurance to pregnant migrant workers, as the Public Health Ministry allowed doctors to exercise discretion on whether or not to sell it.

“We consider that pregnant workers cannot work and the medical expenses for this group is very high, so we have decided not to sell UC insurance to this group,” she said.

“It is financially irresponsible for the hospitals to sell 2,100 baht insurance and then have to spend up to 20,000 baht per case.”

The Provincial Public Health Office disclosed that in the 2016 budget year, three public hospitals in Phuket – Vachira Phuket Hospital, Patong Hospital and Thalang Hospital – spent a total of 94.11 million baht on medical services for migrant workers, which included neonatal services.

The average expense for a conventional delivery starts at 6,000 baht, while Caesarean sections cost 12,000 baht or more.

Patong Hospital Director Dr Sirichai Silapa acha urged employers to help hospitals because they benefit from cheap labor, so they should provide a subsidy for workers or set up funds to help pay for medical expenses.

— The Nation


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Koh Samui4 hours ago

Surat Thani announces new Covid-19 measures for Samui Plus

Thailand7 hours ago

His Majesty the King donates 2.8 billion baht in Covid-19 aid

Coronavirus (Covid-19)8 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Provinces: 14,260 new infections, 119 deaths

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)8 hours ago

Vaccination registration open for foreign residents over 60 in Bangkok

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Autopsy results for woman who died after mixing vaccines

Coronavirus (Covid-19)14 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Saturday: 14,260 new infections, news briefs

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand19 hours ago

Department head predicts Covid-19 could last up to another year

World21 hours ago

Swedish prison hostage situation resolved with pizza

Thailand22 hours ago

Minister: Foreigners, migrant workers are cared for amid Covid-19

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

“Withhold Intubation” for certain older Thammasat Hospital patients

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Bang Sue vaccination centre open for expats 60+, under must wait

Coronavirus News & Updates1 day ago

“Covid-19” deaths said to cause crematorium in Bangkok to partially collapse

Thailand1 day ago

Nakhon Sawan farmers make large profits growing fingerroot as Covid cure

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Leaked document: military arranging private Moderna vaccines

Thailand1 day ago

Nakhon Si Thammarat arrest drug suspect hiding in jar

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8