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

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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.

In case you just want to know where can you get insurance fore a retirement visa, check out Luma Long Stay Care.

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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 for current and future non-immigrant O-A visa holders.

If you have a non-immigrant O-A visa, you must have insurance with the following coverage amounts:

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

This new insurance rule is going to apply to both new non-immigrant O-A visa applicants and current non-immigrant O-A visa holders.

And the Immigration Bureau just released an official statement saying that the rule is going into effect starting October 31, 2019.

There is an update on the regulations in October 2021. Now, you need an insurance plan with 3,000,000 baht coverage in order to apply for a retirement visa.

On the other hand, the coverage requirement is still be 400,000 baht IPD and 40,000 baht OPD for those who already have a retirement visa and want to renew it.

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.

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.

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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.

Health Insurance Choices

You can get health insurance from a local insurance company as long as the plan has coverage of 3,000,000 baht for making a new retirement visa or 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.

You are unable to make or renew a retirement visa with offshore insurance at the moment. But this may change in the near future.

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. 

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 Asia Care Plus plan. It is more expensive but comes with 32,000,000 baht-worth of coverage.

Alternatively, you can check out tgia.org for a full list of health insurance companies.

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.

This rule is not set in place yet. Soon, we may see changes in retirement visa requirements. Visa requirements may be separated between those who have health insurance and those who don’t.

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 facebook.

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