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Retired Foreign Expats in Thailand Hit With Mandatory Health Insurance

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BANGKOK – Retired expats in Thailand who’s pensions are just enough to survive on in Thailand have been dealt another blow by Thailand’s Junta Government after the NLA Cabinet approved a new law requiring  that will require expats on the long-stay non-immigrant O-A visa to have health insurance that offers Bt40,000 coverage for outpatient treatment and Bt400,000 for inpatient.

Just a few months ago the Junta government made changes to O-A visa (Retirement Visa) that requires retired expats on pensions from their home country to have either a monthly income of at least 65,000 baht or hold a minimum of 800,000 baht in Thai banks. They must maintain that amount for three months after a visa or extension is granted, after which they can only take out half.

Officials at the Immigration Bureau said the changes were ordered from the top after four embassies in Thailand – Britain, the United States, Denmark and Australia – stopped issuing affidavits certifying the monthly incomes of applicants from their respective countries.

Immigration officials are now saying that the new regulations for mandatory health insurance is because foreign expats have piled up unpaid medical bills of more than Bt300 million since 2016.

According to Thailand’s Health Service Support Department’s International Health Division once the law is implemented, applicants for the non-immigrant O-A visa (Retirement Visa), which is valid for one year from the date of issue, would be required to buy health insurance.

“Current holders of this visa will have to produce proof of their health insurance for visa renewal.”

However the Immigration department as usual has been vague on instructions for elderly expats that may not be eligible for health insurance due to existing health or age issues. Many of which support Thai families with their modest pensions.

For many retired expats this new health insurance regulation will force them to relocate to the Philippines, Vietnam or Cambodia where expats are appreciated and not ostracized by the Government.

Meanwhile, The ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs have been instructed to inform all foreigners of these new requirements.

Currently, citizens of only 14 countries require health insurance when seeking Thai visas for five years and above.

For retired expats looking for health insurance Thailand’s Public Health Ministry has suggested that visa applicants purchase health insurance from one of the companies listed on www.longstay.tgia.org.

By Geoff Thomas