Expats living in Thailand will have to compulsorily arrange health insurance, according to new proposals from the government.
Once it comes into effect, foreigners with the one-year Non-immigrant Visa "O-A" (Long Stay) will be required to have Thai insurance policies covering their entire stay in Thailand with minimum Bt40,000 out-patient medical bill coverage and minimum Bt400,000 in-patient medical bill coverage.
Those already having overseas insurance policies that meet the minimum requirement would be exempted from subscribing to Thai insurance policies. They will be able to apply for long-stay visas using their foreign insurance policies, he said.
Expatriates on the so-called ‘retirement visa' already have to keep 800,000 baht in a separate bank account for at least three months prior to their annual visa renewal.
Many Thai insurance companies refuse to cover those over the age of 60 and for those over 75 there' is even less chance of being able to find an insurer willing to take them on, however healthy they may be. Concerned expats fear they will either be unable to be covered or will not be able to afford whatever the insurers themselves decide is the actual premium.
One of the insurance companies offering insurance to both locals and expats is Luma. The company has solutions for family health insurance in Thailand as well as expats, who have just moved to the country.
Frequent business travellers are often at a lost figuring out whether they should get coverage in their home countries or health insurance in Thailand. Foreigners from certain Asian countries, who travel frequently to Thailand but do not reside here, can benefit from our wide coverage area and comprehensive benefits.
Medical insurance for expats in Thailand is sometimes a difficult proposition for some customers, as needs vary greatly for each individual. "We offer coverage for health insurance in Thailand but many of our plans also offer coverage for medical emergencies and accidents that occur anywhere in the world," according to the insurance company's website.
Details and guidelines pertaining to the amendment were 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 next stage, it would be forwarded to the Cabinet for approval as a formal policy, he added.
The amended criterion is aimed at ensuring health protection for long-stay visa holders - mostly elderly foreigners - and also benefit the public and private hospitals in the country, local news outlet The Nation reports.
The criterion under the Immigration Act 1979 was approved by the Medical Hub Committee, Dr Kittisak Klapdee, adviser to the Minister of Public Health, said.
Kittisak was assigned by Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn to join Tourism and Sport vice minister Ittipol Khunplome at the Medical Hub Committee's second annual meeting, which approved in principle the amendment of the criteria for one-year long-stay visas.