Have you been thinking about buying health insurance for your employees? This is going to be an important question after you have been running a company in Thailand for a while.
Of course, health insurance is a good way to keep your employees in good health, but you might be hesitant to pay for its premium rates, which can be high especially when paying for many employees. This is where group health insurance comes into play.
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Corporate group health insurance comes with a big discount on the premium rates with only a few requirements required. The price is lower than a family insurance but coming with more flexibility.
This article is written based on our experience with buying health insurance for our own company in Thailand. It will give you a good understanding of how corporate health insurance works in Thailand, including coverage, requirements, application, plans, and where to get coverage.
- 1 Why Public Insurance Isn’t Enough
- 2 Benefits of Having Private Insurance
- 3 Coverage
- 4 Rates
- 5 Employee Discounts
- 6 Requirements
- 7 Plans
- 8 Buying
- 9 Renewal
- 10 Self-employed
- 11 Disclaimer
- 12 Questions?
- 13 What to Read Next
Why Public Insurance Isn’t Enough
The public health insurance system in Thailand is part of Social Security, which is required for everyone who works in Thailand. It comes with limited medical treatment coverage and is a complicated process.
Unless you go to the hospital that is on your Social Security card, you’ll need to go to the Social Security office within 72 hours after receiving medical treatment and apply for reimbursement yourself. Several documents are required to do this, including Social Security forms, medical certificate, receipt, and a copy of your bank passbook.
Not all social security hospitals are government hospitals. A private hospital may provide a different kind of care than a government hospital.
In addition, with Social Security, many times you need to spend the whole day at the hospital in order to get treatment for common sicknesses.
Because of this, some people choose to ignore medical treatment benefits from Social Security and go with private insurance. Social Security can help you if you have a life-threatening sickness, but it should not be something you should hope for.
Benefits of Having Private Insurance
Although private insurance is totally optional and isn’t required for running a company in Thailand, it comes with many benefits. The first one is about attracting new potential candidates and retaining current employees. A company providing health insurance will have an edge on this issue over the companies without group insurance.
There’s also an unwritten rule that companies in Thailand should provide health insurance for their workers. This results in a majority of Thai employees not having their own private health insurance, since they expect to get it from the company.
Having a good health insurance plan increases employees well-being, resulting in an increase of productivity. When they are sick, many employees do not want to go to a hospital since they simply do not want to pay for medical treatment. A normal flu that can be healed within a day or two can last a week instead, decreasing their productivity for the whole period of time. Worse, sick employees may even spread contagious sickness to other employees.
The healthcare system in companies in Thailand becomes much more important every day. Certain organizations even offer a free gym membership to all of their employees. This is to keep their employees in a good health resulting in a better work efficiency. If yours doesn’t, here are some cheaper alternatives.
The cost of group health insurance is also considered a company expense that is eligible for tax deduction. And with a 20% corporate income tax rate in 2018, that means you get a 20% discount from the group insurance.
For example, if your company’s annual profit is 2,000,000 baht, the corporate tax you’d need to pay is 400,000 baht. If purchasing group insurance costing 300,000 baht, your company’s tax amount will be decreased to 340,000 baht, which means you’d get a 60,000 baht deductible for buying group insurance.
It can be said that a group health insurance policy and coverage for both small business and big corporations are very close to individual health insurance policies. It has similar limits, exclusions, and age restrictions. It has the same rule: not to pay out benefits because of certain pre-existing conditions or treatment that isn’t related directly to healing.
Here is a list of basic coverage you should know about when buying group health insurance.
Room and Board
This coverage is only eligible for IPD (inpatient benefits). It includes the cost of hospital room, food, nursing charge, and other medical charges while being admitted in the hospital. The daily inpatient room rate and nursing care services for private hospitals starts at 3,000 baht and 6,000 baht for top-tier hospitals such as Bumrungrad and Bangkok Hospital.
Intensive Care Unit
This coverage works similar with room and board but covers the cost of intensive care unit (ICU). The coverage limit tends to be double of the room and board but cap at 15 days per year. The average daily cost for an ICU stay is 8,000 baht for general private hospitals.
The main expenses that come with staying in an ICU aren’t the costs of rooms, but medical expenses which can easily be over 80,000 baht a day. The medical expenses are counted as general hospital expenses as seen in the next section.
General Hospital Expenses
A hospital’s general expenses include the cost of medicines, wound dressing, x-rays, laboratory tests, operating room, and emergency treatment.
Emergency Accidental Outpatient Treatment
This covers the cost of treatment for injury caused by an accident. In order to be eligible under this coverage, you need visit the hospital within 24 hours after the accident. It also cover the cost of follow-up treatment within 15 days.
Emergency accidental outpatient treatment has its own limits but is usually included in a hospital’s general expenses.
Surgical Treatment and Consultation Fees
As the name implies, this covers surgeons’ fees and surgery consultation fees.
In case of emergency, the corporate group insurance covers the cost of ambulance. The usual limit of this coverage is 1,000 baht to 2,000 baht per time. The ambulance fee is also included in a hospital’s general expenses.
The cost of ambulance fees are based on many factors, including delivery options, distance traveled, medical equipment, and medical personnel. Although ambulances can be free if you use an emergency ambulance service from National Institute of Emergency Medicine (call 1669), or they can cost 25,000 baht if using top tier ambulances with doctors and nurses.
The average cost for a standard ambulance in Bangkok is 2,000 baht.
Often confused with emergency accidental outpatient treatment, personal accident actually provides a compensation in case of death, dismemberment, loss of sight, hearing, or disability. The coverage can be cut down to only 50% if the cause of accident comes from a motorcycle, either by riding or being a passenger.
Outpatient Benefits (OPD)
Some insurance companies such as Pacific Cross already include OPD coverage on their corporate group insurance plans, while you need to buy it separately for other companies such as Aetna (Bupa). However, the insurance rates will also be lower. Check this article for the average cost of OPD in Thailand.
The group insurance for a corporate comes with a heavy discount that may even further decrease the premium rates to 20% to 40% compared to an individual insurance package. This does not include an indirect discount that comes in a form of corporate tax deduction. It is common to see that group insurance for five people can even be 20% cheaper than an individual health plan for three people with similar coverage.
Rates of the group insurance mainly depend on the number of employees. The higher the number, the cheaper the insurance rates will be per person. Similar to an individual health insurance, employee’s age also effects the insurance rates. Another factor to keep in mind is that certain high-risk industries, including lots of commute and work inside a factory, may have higher rates than a company operating in a small office.
Group health insurance does not only benefit employees alone but their families also. The group insurance rates can be applied to any employee whose married or has children. To be eligible for the discount, a couple needs to be married legally and have a marriage certificate. And children must be younger than eighteen or twenty-five years old depending on the insurance policy.
There are some requirements when buying a group health insurance for business, both small and large corporate. The first one is that the company needs to be registered legally in Thailand with a company registration issued from Department of Business Development. The second requirement is the company needs to work and have an office in Thailand. By this, it can be in a form of a physical office, serviced office, or even a virtual office.
The third requirement is the minimum and maximum number of employees which is different based on each insurance companies. For example, Bupa only requires five to fifty employees for their group insurance plan, while Allianze needs eleven to one hundred employees.
The fourth requirement is the employee age that needs to be in the range of 15 to 65 years old. Some insurance companies may even require an average age of all employees in the group insurance not to be more than 45 years old.
The last requirement is the company industry. Businesses in certain high-risk industries, such as mechanical companies or manufacturing plants, might not be able to purchase group insurance.
Our company has been using a basic group plan from Bupa for a while now because of the rates, coverage, and partner hospitals. It doesn’t mean that they are the best choice so far when in comes to corporate insurance.
In terms of coverage alone, Pacific Cross is another good choice. They have budget group plans that already include OPD benefits.
Luma, as previous known as MSH, also provide corporate insurance plans. However, their plans work differently than other insurance companies. Instead of separating coverage limits by categories, they come with the overall plan annual limit providing full coverage without a maximum limit of most areas. This causes their premiums to be higher, but their group plans still are one of the best values in the market.
We asked around and found out that different companies in Thailand used different insurance companies, with other popular choices being AIA, Muang Thai insurance, AXA, and Allianze. When it comes to choosing group health insurance, there’s no definitive best plan. It is more based on each company’s requirements and preferences.
Using a health insurance comparison site such as Mister Prakan can help you make a decision easier, while finding the right plan for your company. Being a broker company, you can purchase the insurance directly from them. Their comparison tool is comprehensive and covers a majority of local insurance companies in Thailand. There are other sites providing a similar service, include gobear and rabbitfinance.
It’s common in Thailand to purchase a group insurance through brokers instead of insurance companies. The rate you get from brokers is the same as buying directly from the companies. The major benefit of using brokers is that you have more choices, and they can suggest you a plan based on your requirements. We also purchase the group insurance though a brokerage.
When buying corporate group insurance, you need to the following documents:
- company registration
- vat registration (Por Por 20)
- application form for the employer
- application form for all employees
Unlike family insurance, buying corporate group insurance is more flexible. It is possible to choose different plans for different positions and salary ranges for different employees. You can choose more expensive plans for higher positions as a motivator for your employees to drive themselves. However, everyone still needs to be under the same policy.
You are also able to add more employees in the group plan. The rate will be on a pro rata basis after the plan has begun. In case an employee leaves the company, it is also possible to get a refund under the same basis.
The group insurance plan can be renewed every year. A few months before the plan expires, the insurance representative should get in touch with you, asking whether or not you want to renew the plan. They should send you a list of coverage options and rates for your consideration again. However, this time all you need to do is to send payment without having to resend company documents again.
How about self-employed individuals? Is it possible to get group health insurance for digital nomads or freelancers who work together as a team but haven’t registered a company yet? Unfortunately, the group plan for these groups is still unavailable. We have heard that some self-employed groups are able to get a group plan but it’s a very rare case. Most of the time the insurance companies will ask you to buy an individual health insurance for all group members instead.
Please note that we are not insurance brokers and do not sell insurance plans. The information provided in this article is based on our intensive research on the topic. However, it’s important to recheck the information again with insurance brokers or insurance companies.
If you have any specific questions about doing business in Thailand, ask here and someone from our team will usually reply within a couple days.