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Foreign Health Insurance for Thai Retirement Visas

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests we are discussing Health Insurance specifically in the context of the Thai Retirement Visa.  

We have done a number of other videos on this channel with respect to the Retirement Visa and how it is being impacted by the recent announcement that insurance will now be a requirement for those who are seeking Retirement Visas. The thing away from this video is there is and has been announced a qualification whereby someone can use insurance from abroad so insurance that was obtained for example in their home country which may cover them in Thailand in order to use that insurance to apply for a Visa abroad or to extend their visa in-country based on having insurance which came from overseas.  

In a recent article from thaiexaminer.com, the article is titled:  Thai Government's New Compulsory Insurance May Only Apply to Retirement Visas for Foreigners. Quoting directly, "Existing policies outside Thailand acceptable but may run into complications later. The Secretary General of Health Services Support this week was anxious to highlight the positive nature of the new regulation. Such health insurance is good for foreigners too Dr. Prasert-siripong said. He confirmed that foreigners with existing health insurance would be allowed to keep their existing policy for the purposes of applying for a visa or renewal but raised a number of concerns. The first is the Thai Authorities must be sure that the provisions meet the criteria set and that health insurance is valid.  This could pose complications later not least in terms of translated documents and certification required for visa applications to officers at Thai Immigration Offices." This is very interesting; it is a good point that these authors bring up in this article. Again, thaiexaminer.com. The article is titled: Thai Government's New Compulsory Insurance may Only Apply to Retirement Visas for Foreigners and by the way this is a multi-page article and it gets deep.  They do a lot of good analysis in this and the practical implications for foreigners in the Kingdom. So I urge those watching this video, go check out this article. It is worth a look. They bring up a lot of different things.

We have already done videos where we have quoted directly the translation of the Health Ministry's announcement on this and within that announcement they noted that this could be an issue as well. They noted that,  "hey, foreign insurance policies may be acceptable but we need to adjudicate it." and as these individuals who wrote this article note, this can pose a problem on a practical matter because where a Thai Officer has to adjudicate, analyze and use their discretion to go ahead and make a determination with respect to the acceptability of evidence, for example evidence of insurance, that can pose delays and frankly as with many things that involve bureaucracy, sometimes you don't want to be a “non-routine case”.  You just want them to look at things and say "Oh, that makes sense; that ticks the box." and move it on down the line. In cases involving foreign insurance, it might be difficult for officers to make that determination and as this article notes, and let me quote yet again from it, "this could pose complications later, not least in terms of translated documents and certification required for visa applications to officers at Thai Immigration Offices."  I think that is very on-point. Those who are going to be using foreign health insurance presumably to apply for Retirement Visa extensions moving forward, it is probably safe to presume that those policies probably will have to be translated into Thai and in all the situations in which I have seen document translations being presented to Thai Immigration in the context of visa extension, they have wanted to see that documentation translated usually certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

So how this will look as a practical matter for those on the ground applying for extension of stay and having foreign health insurance remains to be seen. As noted, this is all speculative at this time but it is starting to firm up. We are starting to get a pretty good idea what this is going to look like and I think in the near-term, probably in the course of the next 12 to 18 months from the time of this video, we probably will hear stories of folks that are trying to use foreign health insurance having issues explaining to the adjudicating officer the exact nature of their health insurance so that officer can make a determination as to whether or not it complies with the specific regulations regarding insurance and Retirement Visas here in the Kingdom of Thailand.