Trading Danish health care for a carefree life in Thailand

Photo by Louise Bihl Frandsen
Photo by Louise Bihl Frandsen

The dream of living an easy life away from the cold North can become a nightmare, if you get sick and do not have a health insurance. ‘There is no financial assistance to get from the Danish State’, says Danish Embassy in Bangkok, who recently had two serious cases with sick Danish citizens without insurance.

Countries in Asia have long been a hot spot for Danish citizens looking to escape the expense of the West and enjoy life in a warm, hospitable, and beautiful country. In 2011 more than 600 Danish retirees had residence in Thailand, the Philippines or Vietnam. On top of this number is a larger number of Danish citizens of all ages.

Unlike working or retiring in one of the EU or EEA countries, in Asia you have to make a health insurance yourself and pay for it as well – The Danish State does not pay.

However, the Danish Embassy in Bangkok recently had two cases with very ill Danish citizens not being insured. At the time when the family sought help from the Embassy in Bangkok, the family member was lying unconsciously in a hospital.

“It was a terrible situation. The family did everything they could to help him, and they paid enormous amounts of money to get the hospital to treat him,” Consul Birgit Sarah Kondrup-Palmqvist says and continues:

“There is no financial assistance to get from the Danish State. Danish citizens are responsible themselves for making a health insurance, locally or in Denmark. If they choose not to, they have to pay the expenses from their own pocket, or they will have to ask their family or friends for financial support to pay the bill,” Birgit Sarah tells.

In this case the family had to pay 3,500 dollars a day just to keep the family member in the hospital. After a long and expensive fight, the daughter succeeded in helping her father, who is now back home recovering.

When it is too late
According to Consul Birgit Sarah Kondrup-Palmqvist it comes as a surprise for some Danish citizens living in Asia that there is no financial support from the Danish State, if they get sick.

“They believe that as a Danish citizen they are entitled to different services, including health services as if they were living in Denmark,” she says.

In another recent case an ill Danish citizen living in Thailand without insurance, was, in spite of his illness, able to travel back to Denmark, where he went to a Danish hospital. He claimed that the Embassy had recommended him to get treatment in Denmark.

According to Birgit Sarah this was not true. In this particular case, the man was lucky to get treatment. However, the rules are clear – if you leave Denmark, you do not have access to the Danish health care system. No matter the situation or your age.

“They find themselves in a vicious circle. They know, they are sick, and now it is too late to make a health insurance. The Danish State cannot assist, because the day they decided to move, they also signed away their right to the services in the health care system,” she says.

According to International Pension in Denmark, Danish citizens can get access to the Danish health care system as soon as they have a permanent address in Denmark again. But for some it might be too late to move back to Denmark.