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Thailand’s Latest Mandatory Health Insurance Rules for Foreign Retirees

Planning to spend your retirement years in Thailand? Make sure to understand the mandatory health insurance rules set by the Thai Government.

What is Mandatory Health Insurance Rules for Foreign Retirees?

In the year 2019 Thai Ministry of Public Health announced new insurance rules for current and future foreign retirees, the rules are applied to new non-immigrant O-A visa applicants and current holders. It states that the applicant or visa holder must have health insurance that covers outpatient medical costs of at least 40,000 baht and inpatient medical costs of at least 400,000 baht. Domestic or foreign insurers may offer policies but the total cost of foreign policies must not be less than the total cost of Thai policies.

Foreign retirees can rest assured that they will be cared for if they become ill or injured in Thailand thanks to the health insurance rules. The Thai government can also use this rule to prevent foreigners from avoiding hospital bills by trying to leave the country.

Key Points

  • Foreign Retirees must have health insurance that covers outpatient medical costs of at least 40,000 baht and 400,000 baht inpatient medical.
  • Both new non-immigrant O-A visa applicants and existing non-immigrant O-A visa holders will be subject to the new insurance rule.
  • The Thai Government set this rule to prevent foreigners from avoiding hospital bills by leaving the country.

Are Other Types of Visa Affected By This Rule?

Up until the present day, the rule only applies to non-immigrant O-A visa applicants and holders. The same rule is likely to be applied to other types of long-term visas in the future, but the extent of coverage will vary. If you have a non-immigrant B visa, non-immigrant EDU visa, or non-immigrant O visa for marriage, you do not necessarily need to have health insurance.

Why Did the Thai Government Set This Rule?

The Thai government says that they implemented the new health insurance rule in response to an increase in unpaid medical bills from expats. In 2018, 680,000 expats out of 3,420,000 who visited Thai hospitals did not pay their bills, resulting in a total of 305 million baht in unpaid bills with the majority of unpaid bills are owed by retirees..

As of today, the rule only affect applicants or holders of the non-immigrant O-A visa.

What If I’m Not Eligible For the Mandatory Health Insurance?

Due to your age or pre-existing medical conditions, some foreign retirees are unable to receive health insurance, if you are unable to obtain health insurance, you can try out the following options:

For first-time applicants
You can apply for a non-immigrant OI visa at a Thai embassy or consulate in your home country instead of the non-immigrant O-A visa. In your application, you should state that your trip is “in preparation for retirement.” To meet the financial requirements, you will enter Thailand on a non-immigrant O visa and must have 800,000 baht in savings in a Thai bank account or an income letter from your embassy. Within the last 30 days of your stay permit, you will then try to apply for a one-year retirement visa extension.

For those currently holding non-immigrant O-A visa or O-A visa extension
If you are already in Thailand and you hold a non-immigrant O-A visa or a stay extension, you only have one option: cancel your current visa or allow it to expire and leave Thailand to prevent overstaying, return to your home country and apply for a non-immigrant O visa as described in Option 1.

If you do not intend to return to your home country, you can simply fly to one of Thailand’s neighbouring countries and return as a tourist. You have the option of returning on a 60-day tourist visa or a 30-day visa exemption. If questioned by an immigration officer upon your return, you can claim you’re switching to a non-immigrant O visa based on retirement. You will open a Thai bank account as soon as you return to Thailand as a tourist to fulfil the financial requirements.

You will then need to request an application for a “change of visa” based on your retirement and apply for a non-immigrant O visa. It can take up to 15 days to complete the procedure, so make sure you plan ahead.

After switching to a non-immigrant O visa, you must wait until you are halfway through the visa or within the last 30 days of the visa before applying for a one-year extension.

Change your non-immigrant O-A visa to Marriage Visa
When a non-immigrant visa or extension holder marries a Thai citizen, the non-immigrant visa or extension may be converted to a marriage visa. You should cancel your non-immigrant O-A visa or extension first, and then leave Thailand to apply for a new non-immigrant O visa based on marriage from a Thai embassy in one of Thailand’s neighbouring countries.

After that, you’ll re-enter Thailand and make the necessary financial arrangements before your 90-day non-immigrant visa expires, at which point you’ll be able to apply for a one-year extension based on your Thai wife.

The Thai government says that they implemented health insurance rule in response to an increase in unpaid medical bills from expats.

Where Can I Get Health Insurance That Meets These Requirements?

You can get health insurance from any local insurer of your choice, as long as the plan covers 400,000 baht for IPD and 40,000 baht for OPD. Make sure to have the IPD and OPD coverage amounts clearly stated on the policy to avoid miscommunication in the immigration office. You can also apply for a quote with the Thaiger and get a representative to call you back.

How Much Does Health Insurance in Thailand Cost?

The cost of health insurance is determined by your age, pre-existing conditions, the amount of coverage and the coverage area. In most cases, health care for those over the age of 50 years can be a bit more costly.

There are new policies that have only recently been released to meet the new visa requirements. The plans cover IPD for 400,000 baht and OPD for 40,000 baht and will cost less than 10,000 baht per year. Please keep in mind that these policies have a deductible of more than 200,000 baht and before the insurance provider will pay you, you would have to pay the chosen deductible balance.

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