Foreigners aged 50 and over residing in Thailand on a particular type of visa will soon be required to buy mandatory health insurance. Approved by Cabinet in April, the new regulations require anyone seeking to stay in Thailand on a Non-Immigrant O-A visa to buy health insurance that offers Bt40,000 coverage for outpatient treatment and Bt400,000 for inpatient. The requirement is being introduced as one of a number of measures to help tackle the problem of foreign tourists and expats absconding with unpaid bills after receiving treatment in Thai state hospitals. Official figures claim that foreigners have piled up Bt300 million in unpaid medical bills since 2016.
The exact details and guidelines pertaining to the new requirements were still being being jointly formulated by the Public Health Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Immigration Bureau, the Office of Insurance Commission, the Thai General Insurance Association, and the Thai Life Assurance Association at the time of going to press.
However, the new rules are expected to come into force from July
Officials have said that overseas insurance policies that meet the minimum requirement will be acceptable. Otherwise, retirees will need to buy insurance via the website https://longstay. tgia.org/ which has been set up specifically for those on a Non-Immigrant O-A visa. Following the announcement, popular expat website Thaivisa.com clarified who exactly is affected by the mandatory health insurance requirement. According to the details issued by the Thai government, only those people who stay in Thailand on a Non-Immigrant O-A visa are affected. Non-Immigrant O-A visas are typically obtained from the Thai Embassy or Consulate in your home country.
At the time of going to press, it does not appear that those staying in Thailand on an ‘extension of stay based on retirement’ are affected by the new rules.
Many elderly expats, particularly those with pre-existing conditions or those age 75 or over have been left wondering if they will be able to get insurance at all. Other expats commenting online wondered if the new requirement for NonImmigrant O-A visa holders would be the first step in making it a requirement for foreign expats of all ages to have health insurance. For expats, it is important you understand exactly what visa type or extension of stay you have.
Open your passport and look at what is inside! It is not enough to simply say “I have a retirement visa” because that often doesn’t accurately clarify what is in your passport. There will be retirees reading this who think they have a retirement visa, when what they actually have is an ‘extension of stay based on retirement’, and if that is the case, the new mandatory health insurance rules probably do not affect you.