Setting up a medical business in Thailand can be attractive, given the country’s growing healthcare industry and increasing demand for quality medical services.
Thailand’s Healthcare Landscape:
Despite Thailand already having a sizable healthcare sector, the growing aging population is set to intensify the demand for healthcare services in the foreseeable future. Like many nations, Thailand is on a path toward becoming an aging society. Compared to other ASEAN countries, Thailand boasts one of the highest percentages of citizens aged over 60 within the region. Furthermore, projections indicate that by 2045, this proportion will surpass other regions, including Europe and the United States.
It is indisputable that Thailand’s aging society will continue to be a significant driver of domestic healthcare needs in the coming decades.
Further, Thailand aspires to be a regional healthcare hub offering quality services at a competitive service and price point to other nations.
Apart from the plethora of renowned hospitals, Thailand has been witnessing a continuous surge in its pool of native medical experts. As of 2017, the country boasted 222,757 Thai medical professionals, encompassing physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, and technical nurses. During that year, an additional 2,762 medical licenses were bestowed upon newly qualified doctors. Thailand’s expansion in its medical workforce and the influx of new doctors amounted to a robust compound annual growth rate of approximately 3.7%.
Thailand has already invested significant time and effort into facilitating access to medical services and public healthcare. The proportion of government healthcare expenditure has risen rapidly from below 50% in 1995 to approximately 80% today. The country has also been operating a universal healthcare system since 2002, with the policy proving so successful that over 99% of the Thai population is now covered by public healthcare.
Thailand’s Exceptional Medical Care
- Affordably Priced – MTI Global Ranking 2016: 18th
- Global Rankings: 18th (Overall)
- 27th (Facilities and Services)
- 6th (Quality of Care)
- 13th (Tourism Infrastructure)
Thailand has witnessed a substantial increase in medical tourists, and this surge can be attributed to several compelling factors:
- Affordable Medical Costs
- High-Quality Healthcare Services
- Exceptionally Developed Tourism Infrastructure
- A Stellar Global Reputation for Unrivalled Care
The combination of top-notch medical care and cost-effective treatment has firmly established Thailand as a premier destination for medical tourism in Asia.
In late 2018, the Ministry of Science and Technology, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Education, unveiled the ‘Yothi Innovation District’. With an anticipated thirteen medical institutions and two universities offering medical courses, it is envisaged as an area that will soon make Thailand the centrepiece of medical innovations. The area will be able to treat approximately 8,000 patients daily and have more than 7,000 beds available.
The Strategic Plan is expected to invite more than 100 private organisations to invest in innovation creation and improving public-private partnerships. In addition, there will also be several policies articulated to support new medical experiments, create startups, and build online databases.
Further, the government has placed medical services on a BOI priority list where tax and other incentives apply.
To start a medical business in Thailand, follow a step-by-step process, including selecting an appropriate company structure, creating appropriate articles of association, holding shareholder meetings, and obtaining a tax identification number. Foreign directors or employees should apply for visas and work permits.
Eligible Medical Activities:
Seven medical activities qualify for BOI approval, covering medical device manufacturing, pharmaceutical production, rehabilitation centres, medical care centres, and clinical research.
Overcoming Foreign Ownership Restrictions:
Medical companies can overcome foreign ownership restrictions by obtaining a foreign business license (FBL) or seeking approval from the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI).
BOI Certification and Benefits:
BOI certification provides significant tax benefits, including exemptions from corporate income tax for up to eight years, a 50% reduction in corporate income tax for up to five years, and waivers on import tax for machinery, raw materials, and objects used for research and development. Visas for foreign employees are also significantly more straightforward to obtain.
Below, is a summary of eligible activities and the basic benefits for which they qualify.