Mandatory Health Insurance for Foreigners over 50?
Thailand’s Cabinet approved a new health care regulation that will affect all foreigners over 50 applying for retirement visas, put in effect July 2019.
In May 2019, the government approved the requirement that expats applying for a retirement visa must have compulsory health insurance. This new regulation protecting the Ministry of Public Health affects foreigners applying for a one-year Non-Immigrant O-A visa as well as the most common retirement visa, a one-year renewal to their Non-Immigrant O visa, also known as “permits-to-stay.”
Dr. Nattawut Prasertsiripong, Chief of the MoPH Department of Health Service Support, announced “Cabinet approved an extra health insurance requirement for foreigners applying for one-year Non-Immigrant O-A visas.”
He specifies the insurance policy “must provide up to 40,000 THB coverage for outpatient treatment and up to 400,000 THB for inpatient treatment during their stay in the Kingdom of Thailand.” Saowapa Jongkittipong, who leads the Health Service Support Department’s International Health Division, reported, “Current holders will have to produce proof of their health insurance for visa renewal.”
Dr. Prasertsiripong explained the basis for the health insurance regulation “is to protect the Ministry of Public Health, which is forced to pay for medical care for foreigners who do not have the funds to pay for their hospital bills.” The Nation reported foreigners unpaid medical bills at 305 million baht in 2018 and 346 million baht in 2017. Statistics show approximately one-fifth of foreign patients did not pay their bills.
While this will detour many foreigners from retiring in Thailand, the Head of Immigration at Phuket specified the new requirements only affects foreigners applying for retirement visas. Luckily he did not specify all foreigners over 50 that are permitted to stay using other visas.
Retirees that have not had health insurance coverage in the past are understandably upset by the Cabinet’s regulation. Many misinformed expats have left the country without seeking advice. Though this additional requirement is a pain, Thailand is dependent on tourism and foreign investment. Immigration’s ever changing requirements may make it more difficult for foreigners to stay, but retirement in Thailand is still accessible to those that are willing to abide by the new policy to enjoy the luxuries of Thai life.
Foreigners that know how to work with the system and make Immigration happy have learned of affordable healthcare coverage or alternative visas that allow them to continue living their best life in Thailand.
If you would like additional information on Immigration’s most recent regulations or visa support, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org