Hefty insurance hovers over Thai visa

BANGKOK, 15 May 2019: Thailand has approved a new rule that will require long-stay visitors to demonstrate they have adequate health insurance, or they will be required to buy cover from a Thai insurance firm.

The health insurance requirement was passed by the Thai cabinet, last April, making it mandatory for foreigners, 50 years or over, who intend to visit Thailand on a long-stay non-immigrant O-A visa to have proof of adequate health insurance cover.

The insurance policy must cover up to Bt40,000 for outpatient treatment and up to Bt400,000 for inpatient treatment.

The government justifies the move saying it will ease the financial burden on state hospitals that are obliged to provide emergency treatment for foreign visitors who have no medical or health insurance.

The new requirement will apply to foreigners, 50 years or more, who enter the country on a non-immigrant visa (O-A), which is valid for a year and can be renewed annually at cost or THB5,000. Employment is strictly prohibited on this visa. It should not be confused with the one-year visa extension offered to retirees already in the country. The non-immigrant O-A visa is only issued by Thai consulates or embassies overseas.

A retiree already resident in the country, files for an annual extension of stay valid for a year with the immigration bureau which checks the paperwork, including financial guarantees, and stamps the approval in their passport.

Foreigners who don’t have medical insurance from their home countries can buy cover from longstay.tgia.org  as long as it covers the minimal costs for outpatient and inpatient care as outlined by the new rule.

For long-stay health insurance options at https://longstay.tgia.org/

Authorities will have to resolve issues on the validity of health insurance purchased before the traveller leaves home to ensure the cover is genuine. Visa applicants could file bogus insurance papers to gain a visa, while the policy might cover a shorter period than stated in the visa application.

Foreigners in the 50 to 55 age bracket will pay a premium of around THB46,000 a year if they use a Thai insurance company recognised by the government.  Once the retiree reaches 70 the annual premium shoots up to as high as THB107,000 (quotes vary between the eight registered companies listed on longstay.tgia.org).

Foreigners over the age of 70 will find it difficult to secure adequate insurance cover, or it will be prohibitively expensive, which could result in fewer retiree traveller in that age group entering the country on this particular visa. One company quoted an annual premium of THB81,000 for 70-year olds, but for the 75 and over age bracket, the cover was only for customer renewing and not for new accounts.

Others may have health issues that make it prohibitively tricky or too expensive to secure insurance.  They may have to provide a much higher bank deposit that the standard THB800,000 required as a guarantee for the long-stay retiree visa application.

Companies offering insurance on longstay.tgia.org: 
Thaivivat Insurance Public Company Limited;
Pacific Cross Health Insurance Public Company Limited;
Axa Insurance Public Company Limited;
Navakij Insurance Public Company Limited;
Bangkok Insurance Public Company Limited;
Aetna Health Insurance (Thailand) Public Company Limited;
The Viriyah Insurance Public Company Limited.

(Source: Nation plus additional reporting. Information revised and updated 15 May)