In an emergency, call 1669 for Thailand’s free state-operated ambulance service. You can also call a private hospital and use their ambulance service for around 5,000 baht.
However, many locals prefer to take their own cars or a taxi to the hospital if it's not a serious emergency as it's usually much quicker (but bear in mind that most Thai taxis don't have seatbelts!).
Once you arrive at the hospital, make sure you let staff know of any health insurance schemes you’re part of (“ฉันมีประกันสุขภาพ” – or “chan mee pra-kan sook-ka-pab” – means “I have health insurance” in Thai).
If you go to a government hospital and have social insurance you won't have to pay for your treatment, but you may find long queues and a limited choice of medication. This is why a lot of people – expats and Thai nationals – choose to have health insurance in Thailand2.
Public hospitals have around four times the number of beds, but your private cover will also allow you to choose to stay at a private hospital with a global standard of care.
Paying for healthcare
Many choose private healthcare for its shorter waiting times and standards of care. Even within Thailand’s universal social insurance scheme, patients would usually expect to pay some of their healthcare costs.
It’s best to always have your health insurance documents to hand if possible (especially if you're about to make a potentially costly trip to hospital!).