A Guide to Thailand’s Mandatory Health Insurance Rules for Retirees

The Thai Government has released the new health insurance rules for retirement visa holders.

Starting October 31, 2019, all retirees applying for a non-immigrant O-A visa are going to need health insurance to live in Thailand.

Let’s take a look at the new rules, those who it affects, and your options.

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What is It?

On April 9, 2019, the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand announced on their website the new insurance rules which is going to apply to both new non-immigrant O-A visa applicants and current non-immigrant O-A visa holders.

After that, the Immigration Bureau released an official statement saying that the rule is going into effect starting October 31, 2019. And it’s still effect until today.

The new rule is this: if you want to get or extend (renew) your non-immigrant O-A visa, which is commonly known as a retirement visa, you now need to have health insurance.

Why is Health Insurance Suddenly Required?

The Thai government claims that the new health insurance rule was introduced because of the increasing number of unpaid medical bills from expats living in Thailand.

In 2018, 680,000 out of 3,420,000 expats who visited the hospital didn’t pay their bills. The total unpaid amount was estimated at 305 million baht.

The majority of unpaid bills were from retirees.

Affected Visas

The only affected visa from this new rule is the non-immigrant O-A visa, also known as the one-year retirement visa.

This visa lets those who are older than 50 stay in Thailand for at least one year, and it can be extended each year.

If you are currently holding a non-immigrant O-A visa, you can still stay in Thailand without having to buy health insurance yet.

The official statement is:

“An alien, who has been granted Non-Immigrant Visa Class O-A (not exceeding 1 year) and has been permitted to stay in the Kingdom before this order takes effect (October 31, 2019), will be able to continual to stay in the Kingdom for the granted length of stay”.

The official statement clearly says that health insurance is required for Non-Immigrant Visa Class O-A

This is not actually a new insurance rule, though. Holders of the non-immigrant visa O-X, also known as the five-year retirement visa, have needed mandatory insurance since 2017.

Does this Rule Effect Other Visa Types?

It’s possible that that same rule will apply to other types of long-term visas in the future, but the coverage amount might be different.

If you are holding non-immigrant B visa, non-immigrant EDU visa, or non-immigrant O visa for marriage, you don’t need health insurance.

But it’s always a good idea to buy health insurance in Thailand so you get good medical care when something unexpected happens.

Requirement and Coverage

To pass this new insurance regulations, you must have insurance for the entire amount of your duration of stay with the following coverage amounts:

  • 400,000 baht for in-patient coverage, or IPD
  • 40,000 baht for outpatient coverage, or OPD

For example, if the visa allows you to live in Thailand for one year, then, you need to get a one-year plan from the health insurance company.


Where Can I Get Insurance?

The easiest way to get health insurance in Thailand is Luma Long Stay Care plan. The plan is specifically tailored for retirees who are younger than 80 years old and want to get a health insurance plan that passes the visa renewal requirement.

The plan is already approved by the Thai government. 

If you want something more comprehensive, you can check out their other Thailand insurance plan. It is more expensive but comes with higher coverage.

Alternatively, you can get health insurance from insurance companies in Thailand that are approved by the Thai General Insurance Association. These companies have a specific insurance plan for a Non O-A visa applicant.

You can check out tgia.org for a full list of approved health insurance companies.

Health Insurance Choices

You can get health insurance from a local insurance company as long as the plan has coverage of 400,000 baht for IPD and 40,000 baht for OPD for visa renewal.

You must remember to have the IPD and OPD coverage amounts clearly stated on your health insurance policy to avoid miscommunication with immigration officers.

If you already have health insurance from international providers that pass the current coverage requirement, you need to ask your insurance company to give you this foreign insurance certificate.

How Much Do I Have to Pay?

Health insurance premiums depend on your age, pre-existing conditions, coverage amount, and coverage area.

Normally, health insurance for those who are older than 50 years old tends to be expensive. You could end up paying more than 100,000 baht for a single health insurance plan. 

However, there are also new plans that just recently came out to satisfy the new visa requirements. The plans come with 400,000 baht coverage for IPD and 40,000 baht coverage for OPD and may cost less than 10,000 baht a year. 

Please note that these plans come with a very high deductible of more than 200,000 baht. You would need to pay the chosen deductible amount before the insurance company would pay you. 

What if I Can’t Buy Health Insurance?

The Thai government is changing the financial requirements and will soon update retirement visa holders.

But if you can’t buy health insurance for whatever reason, you should expect to have to show more money in your bank account when you apply for your new retirement visa.

This is to make that you have enough money to pay for your medical bills if you don’t have health insurance.

Although some people talk about since 2019, this rule has still not set in place yet. It’s possible that it will not come up at all.

In case you want to be out of this insurance scheme, you can look into the Elite Visa. It’s expensive but give you a 5-20 years visa for 4,166 baht to 8,333 baht a month.

Now, on to You

You now need to have health insurance if you want to spend your retirement in Thailand.

Regardless of the law, it’s still a good idea to get health insurance if you retire in Thailand.

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Saran Lhawpongwad is a Bangkokian by birth. He loves to share what he learns based on his insights living and running business in Thailand. While not at his desk, he likes to be outdoors exploring the world with his family. You can connect with him on his LinkedIn.

40 thoughts on “A Guide to Thailand’s Mandatory Health Insurance Rules for Retirees”

  1. Khun Saran, I’m a little confused. Above you stated “The easiest way to get health insurance in Thailand is Luma Long Stay Care plan. The plan is specifically tailored for retirees who are younger than 80 years old and want to get a health insurance plan that passes the visa renewal requirement.”
    When I looked up approved providers on tgia.org I did not find Luma there. Please help me understand what my options are.

    • This plan from Luma is underwritten by Navakij Insurance. And this company is also listed on tgia.org.

  2. Well read carefully all the comments and it strikes me no one has a clear understanding of what is required so my assumption is use an agent to apply for your driving license your bank account and 12 month visa as they are not requesting you deposit 800.000baht per person and if your a couple 1.6 million into a bank account plus a decent health insurance will be £2500 looking at the Thailand requirements for a retirement visa they offer three and the cheapest one actually covers you for very little. But is designed to get cheaply around the visa requirements so really doesn’t protect you or support the Thai health system so it is all confusing ???

  3. Hi I am a British expat live Thailand 26 years. I plan to return to UK for just 10 days
    As far as I know, I am not required to have Health Insurance. As I have a retire Visa “0”
    but when I applied for the Thailand pass, it asked show Health certificate! At 80 years old I cannot get health insurance, I guess they think I’m at deaths door!
    Also when applied they wanted $79! I thought it was free!

    • The insurance is required for the Thailand Pass because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once Thailand cancel the Thailand Pass, which should be within a few months, there should be a chance that you won’t need to get insurance anymore for flying to Thailand.

  4. It’s been over a year since implementation, would people share their experiences with this health insurance change. Thanks

  5. surely the alternative is to show extra funds in Thai bank. If you can show 3 million baht for example or a superannuation income of $100000 then surely that will cut it…or is there NO flexibility .It is very difficult for over 75s to get health insurance

    • One (very costly) alternative is a Thai Elite visa. It costs 500,000 baht and is good for 5 years. (There are other longer-term available). It completely eliminates any insurance or income requirements for five years, and comes with some perks which may be of interest to some people but not others. If you can stand the financial pain, it’s a viable option. Some of the older folks (like me) are unable to find any insurer regardless of price, and depending of Thai Immigration to (1) address the issue in my lifetime and (2) arrive at a logical solution assuming they do take action seems a remote possibility.

  6. New Retirement Visa Requirement Flawed

    As of October 31, 2019 Thai Immigration require that Non-Immigration O-A visa holders & applicants carry health insurance from the limited list of providers on their website. They do not consider international health insurance certificates from companies (i.e. Cigna, Blue Cross, etc) that are not on this list.
    I carry an International health insurance policy (Cigna) which is accepted worldwide and covers up to 3m THB annually and 30m THB lifetime. This far exceeds the minimum coverage of 400k THB noted in the new requirement. However, Thai Immigration will not accept the certificate from Cigna to extend my Non-OA retirement visa.
    I pay about 6k USD for my Cigna policy annual premium and wish to keep it due to its extensive coverage. I’ve no interest in carrying a 2nd policy which would be additional expense, redundant, and inferior just to meet new visa requirements.

    Hopefully Thai Immigration officials will review and amend this new requirement to include international policies that meet or exceed the new coverage guidelines.

    • you have the link that show they are not covered in Thailand because I was shopping Cigna my self for that and I just joined a Thai visa group on FB and they said only 14 companies are exceptedhttps://longstay.tgia.org/home/companiesoa and Cigna isn’t on there and only company that is on there that carry what I was shopping for was pacific cross
      the agent emailing me to check it so if you have the link please share thanks

  7. One alternative Thai immigration should consider is a medical escrow account, where expats can keep 400,000 baht in the account that can only be used for medical payments, unless and until they show valid health insurance certificates. For those with foreign health insurance or who choose to self-pay for health care it seems this would be a valid option, especially for older residents who either cannot get health insurance, or the premium is too high for the coverage offered.

    • I think that’s an excellent idea. Though I guess the concern would be that those who can’t get insurance are also the ones most likely to generate medical bills that exceed that coverage amount. Then of course there is the issue of the insurance lobby, which tends to be pretty strong regardless of which country you go to: They have a big stake in this and, unlike expat retirees, a pretty well-heard voice when it comes to policy makers.

  8. I have a 3 year relationship with my Thai girl friend and I had a retirement visa which I renewed each year for 3 years. It expired last week and I couldn’t renew it again because of the new rules requiring large amounts of money in a Thai Bank. So I decided to go to Ho Chi Minh, Viet Nam, to get a 3 month Tourist Visa. They rejected my application which was perfect according to their website and they wouldn’t say why it was rejected. I returned to Thailand where they gave me 30 days then I went to The Thai Consulate in Bangkok. They said they cannot tell me why because criminals may learn the reason and thus gain entry. Ridiculous, criminals can read their website and how does not telling me help me to apply again. I pointed this out and they said try again at Vientiane, Laos next time. Does the Laos consulate not have the same rules as Viet Nam or is it down to the local manager being in a good mood or not? They also suggested I take out health insurance which is not applicable for a Tourist Visa. And what if they reject it again? They won’t accept repeated monthly visa runs now.
    Thais don’t like to complain so there doesn’t appear to be any way to let the authorities know the difficulties that they create. Surely, what they are doing is counter productive as it is putting off foreigners from spending huge amounts of money in Thailand. I am now considering taking my girl friend to live in the UK forever. Is that what they want?

    • Yes that’s what they want. When she go with you to the UK then she will be sending more money back to Thailand to her family. If you stay there you would spend less on the family. They know what they’re doing.

  9. The Pattaya Expats’ Club state recently that a non immigrant type ‘o’ visa does not have to be partnered with medical health insurance. Is it true ?

    • Hi Richard,

      There are many types of Non-O visa. eg. marriage visa is also non-o. If it’s Non-O visa based on retirement, from what we have heard so far, you still need to have health insurance.

      • Hi Richard,

        Where did you hear that health insurance is required for Non-O visa holders based on retirement. Is your source from the government? I received this week this visa without medical insurance.

    • If you obtain you retirement visa at a Thai Embassy in your home country it appears that the requirements have not change recently, they are the same as for the last 10 years or so. You do the requirements and apply, pay the money for a multi-entry Thai Retirement Visa, however when you arrive on your now valad paid for multi-entry retirement visa it appears before being allowed entry you may have to provide proof that you have medical insurance as required. No where can I find on the Canberra Australia Thai web site that medical insurance is required to get the visa. But but!! if you have no insurance the visa may be NBG (no bloody good) persons entering Thailand are granted entry at the discretion of Immigration officers. There are so many ifs and buts with Thai Immigration?? What does all this really mean. At 78 y/o it is very difficult to get medical insurance from anywhere let alone at short notice upon arrival to get through Thai Immigration.

  10. Your statement that “You can get health insurance from either an offshore insurance company or a local insurance company” is incorrect. It conflicts with the “…must buy a Thai health insurance online…” (the yellow highlighted area in the regulation.

    It also conflicts with the practice. Two days ago my extension of stay was rejected although I have an excellent international worldwide health insurance from Allianz.

    • Hi Rapahel,

      Thanks for this information. We will take a look more into this.

      A question, when you applied for the extension of stay, did you print out your insurance plan that clearly state the coverage amount for both IPD and OPD?

  11. Hi Saran.. Forgive my ignorance on this.. I am the holder of a Non-immigrant O-A visa multiple entry. My extension of stay renewal is not until Sept 2020. To be clear: If I leave the Kingdom and return prior to extension renewal I will need to show Insurance coverage?? Thks

    • Based on my understanding, if you leave Thailand with an active multiple entry Non O-A visa, you don’t need to have health insurance when you come back to Thailand. But when your current visa is expired and you need to renew it, then you need to show health insurance.

  12. i think 800000 bahts deposit in the bank for retirement visa is already guarantee to pay medical bill, afterall, the mandatory insurance max reimbursement is only 400000 bahts.

    Maybe major problem is the other visa alternative allowing monthly income only as eligibility for retirement visa, without the need of 800000 baht bank deposit. So i think probably this group has to be insured against possible large medical bills?

  13. Hmmmm, and the real reason for this Compulsory insurance through a Thai insurance company is what? Using the figures given, apparently 680000 expats didn’t pay their hospital bills which had an estimated total of 305 million baht. So, if we divide the ‘outstanding’ sum (305 million baht) by the ‘rogue’ expats (680,000) we get what as an average hospital bill which hasn’t been paid? You do your own sum and make up your own mind as to why this has been brought in.

  14. If you must have compulsory health cover for a non 0-A then what is their rationalisation for the need to have a bunch of money tied up in a bank?

  15. The insurance requirement cited in para 6, states “must buy a Thai health insurance online ….. via the website longstay.tgia.org.”. As you are suggesting other ways of obtaining an insurance policy, do you have some insight form somewhere other than what is stated in para 6?


    • This should be a confusing part from the official announcement. When you go to that website, you can’t buy insurance there. In the end, it only just points out to the insurance plan you can get.

  16. I am too old to get health insurance but I do have more than 800,000 baht in my Thai Bank Account so I do hope they will let us older expatriates stay in Thailand without Thai health insurance if we can show that we have at least 440,000 baht in a Thai bank.

    • Thai Government is looking into this issue as well. There might be a new requirement for those who can’t buy the insurance. I expect there should be more information regarding this soon.

    • I have used my Australian bank managed retirement fund which is well in excess of the required Bt800,000 amount to get a Thai Retirement Visa and the Thai Embassy in Canberra is happy with this. My fund has a surrender value of the full amount if required in 10 days. The statement must an original document. It comes from the banks pension fund on their letter head. I am 78 years old. The Thai Embassy tells me this document is all I need “don’t send anything more this is enough”. This where things become uncertain. Do I require this insurance if I get my new retirement visa in Aus at the Thai Embassy and what are the issues? In the short term I’m using a 6 months tourist visa which is good for 8 months (TIT yes) with 3 boarder runs. No insurance required (yet?). There are good benefits making trips too and from Aus on this visa get free medical if required, prescriptions, restoration of the pension bonus which you automatically loose after 6 weeks absent ($59 P/F) is restored which means the Aus Govt really pays half the fare BKK to Perth. Financially I am well in front with frequent returns to Aus. I do it also when I have had a retirement visa issued in Aus and save lots on money.
      Enquiries through insurance companies or brokers for the required covey reveals they only provide cover far in excess of the Thai Govt requirements Bt40,000 outpatients and Bt400,000 hospital cover. The premium is very high. Brokers tell me they are not providing cover for the bare requirements of the Thai govt. only comprehensive cove at a much higher premium. At my age all pre-existing ailments will not be covered and at the same time a penalty up to several thousand Aus dollars will be applied and an excess also will be required.
      Does this mean that as very few insurance companies will take the cover if you are over 74 y/o then you should forget Thai Retirement Visas and just travel on a tourist visas from now on???

  17. This is correct, I don’t think so? …you now need to have health insurance if you want to spend your retirement in Thailand.

    And you deleted my name from the TransferWise article that I wrote for you …

    • Hey John, sorry for the TransferWise article. There’s some technical issues when we move from Thailandstarterkit.com to expatden.com. And this should be one of them that we never realize.

      Anyway, we already put your name as the author of that article 🙂

  18. This is a good move by the Thai Government to protect the interest of the retires who want to come over and retire in Thailand. When compared to some other countries, it is still economical to retire in Thailand.

  19. do not quite understand why those can avoid paying the medical bills, they need to report every 90 days their residential address, so can be sued in court of law, or blacklisted by immigration for further visa extension,

    ie unless the public hospitals do not pursue further, or inform immigration

    • I guess one issue a lot of countries nowadays have is that it’s impossible to recover medical debt unless the person has assets or holds a job / income in that country. Sure, blacklisting would be an option (which may be difficult from a legal point of view), but that wouldn’t change that the bill may up having to be paid by the hospital or tax payer. It’s already a law for many countries and visa types. As medical costs in Thailand increase and retirees are more likely to come down with an expensive illness, I assume this will soon be well enforced.

    • Yes well? If your in a comer and very sick and the Thai Hospital puts you on life support for a month and you die (2 friends have been in that position recently) who pays…this to some extent what this debate is all about.

    • It would seem prudent to me that the Bt800,000 provided by retirement visa applicants half Bt400,000 could be a bond lodged with Thai Health Services redeemable as your visa expires when you leave the country held for unexpected medical bill for the time of the visa and the other Bt400,000 could be released to the visa holder to help live on. With my most recent application for a retirement visa the lady at the Thai Embassy in Canberra Australia convinced me that the Bt800,000 requirement was
      so it could be proved you had enough money to live for your stay in Thailand, being 12 months and maybe more. There are a lot of fake bank accounts in Thailand issued by corrupt people…you can still get a multi-entry Thai Retirement Visa in Thailand it depends which door you go through (TIT). Inflation has increased these visa prices to about Bt33,000. Just look on the internet and you will find at least 10 reputable, honest, above board, legal law abiding Thai law firms providing this service…yes TIT


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