Phuket hospitals have been observing a rise in the number of foreign patients. However, of this, the majority are unable to pay their treatment bills. Considering the burden of unpaid bills on local hospitals, Phuket Governor Chamreon Tipayapongthad has decided to raise the topic of travel insurance with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.
The director of a hospital in Phuket revealed that while over 25,000 patients are treated annually, only 400-500 of them have travel insurance. In such cases, either travelers pay out of their own pockets, or the hospitals are forced to bear the expenses. In 2013, hospitals in Thailand collectively witnessed tourists' unpaid medical bills of more than 200 million baht (1 Thai baht = 1.86 INR).
To cut down on unpaid medical bills, several initiatives such as fundraisers for treatments, regulations to slash the state expenses due to unpaid bills, special online insurance schemes, etc. have been introduced. However, Governor Chamroen opines that the simpler method is to make insurance a mandate for tourists entering Thailand by air, in coordination with the country of departure.