Thailand set to deny visas to retirees without insurance

Older foreigners living in Thailand will lose their visas without adequate health insurance under new rules still being written and yet to go into effect.

The Public Health Ministry and related agencies will meet again May 22 to discuss a proposal to mandate health insurance for all long-stay expats over 50 applying for one-year retirement visas.

Though one representative said fewer than half of the regs have been written, the broad outlines are clear: Retirement visa applicants must possess health insurance certificates for policies covering at least THB40,000 annually for outpatient treatment and no less than THB400,000 a year in inpatient costs.

Health officials believe the insurance mandate is justified by the increased health issues – and higher costs – of older expats, according to a representative from the ministry’s Bureau of International Health who asked not to be identified.

While the new rules were approved on April 2, the ministry has yet to finalize the details, said the representative, who said that not even half were written when the last meeting was convened in late April.

Failure to meet the new requirement will lead to the annulment or rejection of one’s visa.

The new requirement would apply to foreigners 50 and up in the country on the O-A retirement visa. It is already mandated to obtain an O-X visa – another long-term visa introduced three years ago for those 50 and up that is good for five years.

Employment under either retirement visa type is strictly prohibited.

Foreigners will be able to buy insurance from participating companies – including Thaivivat Insurance Public Health Co. Ltd., Pacific Cross Health Insurance Co. Ltd and Bangkok Insurance Public Co. Ltd. – via the Thai General Insurance Association. Premiums and the cost of the insurance depends on the company and specific plans chosen.

Applicants must contact authorized insurance companies directly to obtain a policy. Questions about the application can be directed to the insurance companies.

Any foreigner wishing to use health insurance purchased overseas must ensure it meets the minimum coverage requirements. Details regarding overseas policies are still being hashed out.

For more information about the visa and the documents required to apply, visit the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s online consular services.

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