A senior Thai Health Ministry official said that from May 2015, government health insurance packages are available to buy for every registered migrant worker and their dependents.
Dr. Poonlarp Chantavichitwong, Chief of Tak Public Health Officer from Tak Public Health Office, told local reporters after a joint health conference held in Mae Sot with the Karen State Health Department of Burma, that dependent spouses and children of migrant workers are also entitled to buy into the one-year health insurance from respective local government hospital.
The joint health conference between the two countries health departments ran from the 25th to the 26th of May and was the sixth in a series.
Speaking to reporters, Dr. Poonlarp Chantavichitwong said.
“Wives [spouses] and children of migrant workers from Myanmar who are working legally in Thailand often face healthcare difficulties while living here. Now they will be able to buy the health insurance package from hospitals. They can buy the package even though they are not working.”
Dr. Poonlarp Chantavichitwong said that the cost for the one-year insurance is 1,300 baht for adult and 300 baht for children and this will be helpful for dependent family members, as it will cover the health care cost for one year.
As many as 50 representatives, from both Burmese and Thai organizations took part in the two-day meeting.
Representatives from Kayin State and Mon State Health Department were led by Dr. Aung Kyaw Htwe, Director of Kayin State Health Department and the Thai representatives from the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand were led by Dr. Poonlarp Chantavichitwong – community based health groups based on the Thailand border also joined the meeting.
Dr. Aung Kyaw Htwe, Director of Kayin State Health Department spoke to Karen News about the joint meeting.
“This is good for our workers who are, as it is now official. We welcome this action. This means our workers who are spread all over Thailand will be able to access the healthcare service – this is a good for them.”
Despite the two countries health officials’ assurances, border based community health workers claim that the health insurance package is only good for the hospital where it was bought. This means that migrant workers can only seek treatment at the hospital where they bought the health insurance package from to cover their medical cost, except in emergencies cases.
Officials said that the aim of the joint conference was to provide a forum for sharing information, discussing cross-border health problems and identifying appropriate solutions to reduce health problems and disease burdens, especially HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria on the border.
During the two days, discussion focused on malaria, diarrhea and other infectious diseases. Better coordination between border-based health groups was also discussed.
According to estimates from migrant workers’ groups, there are more than 3 million registered and unregistered migrant workers from Burma in Thailand and 300,000 of them are in nine districts in Tak province that border Burma’s Karen State.