Pregnant migrant workers in Thailand’s Phuket province have been denied access to the Universal Coverage (UC) health insurance scheme when they give birth. The province’s health officials have cited financial difficulties as reason for denial.
Normally, migrant workers in Thailand are allowed to purchase health cover for their stay in the country, costing THB2,100 (US$60) annually. However, the Provincial Public Health Office has said that the health system will be overburdened if it covers childbirth-related expenses.
Due to being excluded from the insurance scheme and having to shoulder costs out-of-pocket, many migrant workers’ families are facing huge health costs upon delivery of a baby.
Want the latest insurance industry news first? Sign up for our completely free newsletter service now.
Mu Mu Ten, a 38-year-old mother of two from Myanmar, has racked up close to THB100,000 (US$2,850) in debt due to the premature birth of her youngest child.
“My child was born premature,” Mu told the Phuket Gazette
. “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.”
Despite having valid UC insurance, the costs related to giving birth and her baby’s health complications were not covered.
Dr. Prapornsri Narinrak, Phuket Provincial Public Health Office deputy director, admitted that the province has a policy to deny coverage to pregnant women, as the Public Health Ministry gives doctors discretion on whether or not to provide coverage.
“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 THB2,100 insurance and then have to spend up to THB20,000 per case.”
Meanwhile, Patong Hospital director Dr. Sirichai Silapa Acha urged employers to help shoulder medical costs. As business owners benefit from cheap labor from migrant workers, they should provide a health subsidy or set up funds to help pay for their employee’s medical expenses.
Andy Lau may lose almost US$13m in income due to accident
Third-largest Thai bank to sell life insurance arm
Thailand central bank reminds banks about insurance sales rules