Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Universal Coverage in Thailand

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Jul• 13•09

Puenpatom and Rosenman (2008) examine universal health coverage in Thailand:

In 2001 Thailand became the first developing country to introduce universal health insurance coverage (UC). Six of 76 provinces adopted UC in April 2001, while the remaining provinces implemented UC in October of that year. One of the key elements of the program is capitated-based reimbursement of public hospitals based on enrolled populations in the hospitals’ service areas. Before 2001, the only capitation-based public health insurance program was the Social Security Scheme (SSS), which covered only 9% of the population in 2000. With UC fully implemented almost 90% of the population is covered by capitation. UC capitation is geographically structured so hospitals have fixed revenues based on the local population and financial viability depends on an ability to control costs. One consequence is that hospitals face increased demand from the 75% of the population previously not covered by any formal insurance system.


This table shows the distribution of hospital beds. About 75% of all beds are in government hospitals and about 21% are in private hospitals. Most public hospitals are run by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH). Larger regional hospitals provide tertiary and primary care services. Bangkok has a unique structure within Thailand. Most large teaching hospitals are in Bangkok and forty percent of private hospitals are located in Bangkok. Under the new UC system, patients are assigned to hospitals by MOPH.


“Physicians in Thai public hospitals are employees of the hospital and as such are paid by MOPH according to budgetary structures through the hospitals.”

Old System vs. New System

This table gives a comparison of health insurance coverage under the old an new system. In 1991, two thirds of Thais had not health insurance. By 2000, only 20.3% of Thai individuals were uninsured. After the enactment of Universal Health Coverage (UC), this number fell to less than 4%.

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  1. […] Healthcare Economist · Universal Coverage in Thailand. […]

  2. crystal says:

    hi im crystal speaks im in the 9th grade and im doing a research on thailand and you said that 75 percent of the beds where in the goverment hospital and 21 percent in private so how was they able to fit everybodys needs they needed attencion. cause alot of people in thailand was not insured and some was insured so how would they go about getting there needs to get better tooken care of.

  3. Jason Shafrin says:

    Crystal. People who have insurance can go to private hospitals. Those without insurance can try to pay for their hospitalization out of their own savings. Those without insurance can go to the government hospitals, but they may only be able to access a limited number of services. After the enactment of Universal Health Coverage (UC), however, the number of people in Thailand with health insurance is only 4% of the population.

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