TOURISM: “Half of foreigners” don’t pay their hospital bills; director points finger at three nationalities”

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Thai media Prachachat posted a report about the growing problem of tourists in Thailand and other parts of Asia leaving without paying their hospital bills.

One major hospital director in Phuket has even said 50% of tourists leave Thailand without paying up.

Efforts to recover the money through authorities like embassies have proved hopeless. And he pointed the finger at three nationalities who visit his hospital for treatment the most with many leaving their bills behind.

Now there are increasing calls for not just people retiring in Thailand to have insurance but tourists too. The media said many other parts of Asia are in the same boat and South Korea has already changed its rules.

Prachachat said that huge increases in tourism across Asia – with governments driving growth in the sector – have brought substantial problems for hospitals.

Tourists were a burden on the health system, they said, and Thailand was no different.

From October 2018 to September 2019 448 million in bills went unpaid.

Phuket – with an annual 14 million tourists visiting – was very badly hit in this.

Vachira Hospital, the largest in Phuket, treated 9,000 foreigners over the last year. Most of them were Russian, Chinese and French, said hospital director Dr. Chalermpong Sukhonthaphon. And half of all patients left without paying their bills.

Dr. Chalermpong said that the leading reasons tourists sought treatment at Vachira were after injuries during water sports, motorcycle accidents and attack by animals.

He said the hospital had tried everything they could to get their money including contacting relatives living in Thailand and going to the embassies concerned. This had largely proved fruitless.

The media said that Japan and South Korea in particular are getting trouble from increased tourism and cited comments made in the Nikkei Asian Review.

They said that South Korea had recently brought in compulsory insurance for visitors staying more than 6 months.

Regarding Thailand they said that some long term visitors, especially retirees, are now being asked to show proof of insurance but the time may well be coming when all tourists will have to have travel insurance when visiting the kingdom.

By: Webfact
Source: Thai Visa

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