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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawThai Retirement Visa Insurance: Final Analysis Pre-enactment

Thai Retirement Visa Insurance: Final Analysis Pre-enactment

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing insurance the Thai Retirement Insurance regime which is set to come online on October 31, to 2019. 

I am making this video in anticipation of that date. I want to be very clear. I think it is prudent to go ahead and wait till that day rolls around to see exactly how this is going to be implemented but I am going to go ahead and try and do sort of a final round up of my analysis of how I think this is going to play out. 

I want to go ahead and preface this by saying a few things. There are some people out there that have gotten rather angry with me online about the notion that this upcoming insurance regime is only going to apply to a rather discrete subset of visa holders in retiree status; specifically those who obtained their visas outside of Thailand at a Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad and it does not or will not pertain to those who are extending their status here in the Kingdom. I do understand where that logic is coming from and believe me there has been a great deal of consternation in our office trying to interpret and understand both the Thai and the English versions of this order that has been handed down. 

Let me go ahead and summarize by saying this: I think it is better to presume the worst case scenario and try to work with that or have, for lack of a better term, a backup plan in place to deal with that rather than presuming a rosy scenario and then basically sort of being "hit over the head" with the worst case scenario. That is one of the reasons I tend to default to the less positive or shall we say the less rosy scenario for some folks. The other thing is candidly, the Thai version of this is very difficult in many ways to fully comprehend the finer points of this. It does not come out and specifically delineate or elucidate exactly the differences, if any, that they may be making between for example a Visa issued abroad versus a visa issued in Thailand. As someone whose opinion I highly value has stated, here in our office, his presumption is they are presuming because everyone reading the Thai version would be Thai, there is sort of a presumption of understanding that this pertains to Retirement Visas on the whole and if you operate on that presumption, the thing is actually a pretty straightforward memorandum if you will, about how this is all supposed to be implemented. If you don't take that presumption that this on the whole, pertains to Retirement Visas, then you get into this bifurcated analysis of extensions versus visas sought abroad. 

In a totality of my reading of this, and a totality of all the opinions from all the Thai professionals and those who speak, read and write Thai that have read through this, my personal opinion is that ultimately this is going to apply broadly. What I mean to say is, it will apply to those who are in Thailand in retirement status whether that be extension status or status issued or garnered I should, say by dint of visa issuance abroad; that is my opinion on the matter. 

Now I can see a reading of this where you would stipulate or state that perhaps those who are already in extension status will not need to deal with insurance moving forward so long as they continue to extend under their prior terms. Every other "grandfather clause" I have seen at Thai Immigration is explicitly stated. This situation, it is not explicitly stated. It is far more vague than I would like it to be in just clearly delineating that this applies to everybody. I wish if that is what it is in fact going to be the case, it would just come out and say that but again if you presume that it is understood that they are talking about all Retirement Visas, then reading and interpreting this is relatively straightforward and it applies to everybody. But if you take the position that this is somehow bifurcated and there is a qualitative difference between a visa issued abroad and what I would call an O-A visa extension issued here in Thailand, then if you view that there is a qualitative difference there, then I can kind of see where there could be viewed as those prior to October 31 who got their extension status don't need to maintain insurance to maintain extension status so long as they maintain the financial criteria while those who come along after and have to come in on O-A status and extend therefrom, do have to deal with that; they do need to get insurance. I can kind of understand that if you view this as not a unitary category or approach to dealing with all retirees. I do view it as unitary. I do think that they mean to deal with this with respect to both people extending and those who are not extending.  

Some final thoughts before we deal with enactment, and I am not going to make another Retirement Visa video after this until I start getting in some anecdotal evidence from folks and see some stuff online, both in the press as well as on the forums, from people who are actually dealing with this boots-on-the-ground, because I think any further speculation;  One, I think we have probably "beaten this horse to death" with the videos on this channel and frankly I think any further speculation is really kind of a waste of time. I am making this video because I have gone through this thing over and over. I am reading your comments. I do understand everybody's position on this. The long and the short of it is, I think that based on the interpretation, or based on the plain language of it, there is room for various interpretations. That being stated whether or not I agree with other interpretations besides mine, I candidly just simply don't, more from a policy perspective and the sort of implicit understanding of the language of it. It looks to me like it is going to be broadly enforced. Now that being said, it remains to be seen and we will see it when we see it coming up here after October 31.  

That stated, a couple of things in the lead up this that lead me to believe that in fact "No, this is eventually going to apply to everybody". From Order of the Royal Thai police number 548 / 2562, Subject:  Amendment for Criterion Conditions for Consideration of an Alien's Application for a Temporary Stay in the Kingdom. Toward the end of it,  quoting directly: "2.  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 is effective will be able to continually stay in the Kingdom for a granted length of stay." So what they are saying there is, the way I read it and the way I have gone through with colleagues and look at it in Thai, the way that they are saying is if you got in before the day, if you had a granted length of stay before October 31st you are going to be left to your own devices for that period.  Following that, you are going to need to deal with the new regime. You could logically infer from that, that in order to maintain one's status you would need to extend one's status and this new regime would therefore apply to that.  Quoting also from Criteria for Consideration of Granting an Alien's Extension of Stay in the Kingdom, attachment to the order of the Royal Thai Police number 548/2562, dated September 27, 2019. I want to make this clear again. This is where a lot of this confusion and consternation is coming from because it almost looks bifurcated. I don't think that is the case. I think they are simply pointing out that these rules even apply to visas issued abroad even though these are generally issued rules with respect to extensions issued in the Kingdom. These Insurance rules apply especially or also or even to those who apply abroad, okay? There has been some stuff on the internet where they are talking “oh no, no. That only means sought abroad!"  Fair enough. I am not going to get into that any further but  what I would like it noted is again this specifically pertains and I quote:  "Criteria for Granting an Alien's Extension of Stay", and this is mentioned in that, okay? Criterion 6. "Only for an alien who has been granted Non-immigrant Visa Class O-A, must buy Thai health insurance online,"  and here I think is the operative language. "which covers the length of stay.” So presumably that length of say presumably is that first year that one is issued O-A status for, but that could also be the entire length of that person's stay. They get an initial O-A Visa and then they extend it. That extension is covered in that "length of stay".  So that is the thing to take away from that. 

Finally and frankly this wasn't much help when I found this, at least with respect to my heart burn and the frustration that interpreting this has caused me in the lead up to this rule change. So from the Nation, nationthailand.com, the article is titled:  Mandatory Health Insurance Due for Long-stay Tourists. It specifically States tourists in this article.  Quoting Directly: "Deputy Minister of Public Health Satit  Pitutecha said Wednesday, (October 9), that the Thai government's long implemented medical policy for tourists had led to a rise in foreigners seeking medical treatment in the country." Quoting further: "It will be applied to immigrants applying for Non-immigrant Visa O-A who will stay in the country for no more than one year. Also critically, the pilot project will also be applied to elderly tourists seeking a longer stay in the country, but no more than a year he said." So now it seems maybe the vagueness in these regulations is stemming from the fact that they may be looking to use this in the context of a more tourist or medical tourism context and thereby applying these regulatory rules, via the mechanism we have been trying to interpret, via that way. That is what it looks like to me.

Another thing and this is just a pedantic sticking point on my part, just to re-quote: "it will be applied to immigrants applying for Non-immigrant Visa O-A." Well they have just in the same sentence contradicted themselves - "immigrants and non-immigrants". I am not bringing that up to point out any sort proofreading flaw or something like that in this article. Why I bring up that small point is because that seems to be par for the course in the analysis of this entire thing. A lot of this is going to come down to really fine point details and the draft regulations or the regulations have been handed down, they are a little less than precise with respect to certain fine points of this and I totally understand why it is causing people some confusion so I will leave you with this. 

We are probably going to end up having to see how the "rubber hits the road" on this come November 1, and that is just how we are going to have to deal with it. That being stated and I stand by this remark yet again. I think ultimately this is going to be applied more broadly than narrowly at the very least. I think at the end of the day, ultimately everybody in retiree status in the Kingdom is probably going to end up needing some form of retirement coverage.  Exactly how this is going to look I don't know, and I am thinking of you folks out there who were making comments regarding “well I have insurance from abroad”, I have had a lot of emails about TRICARE, I simply don't know exactly how this is going to look come November 1, with respect to those types of issues. I hate to be vague and I hate to leave folks with a less-than-perfect or a less than clear answer, totally clear answer, but suffice it to say I think what we are going to be looking at is probably more people than not are going to be covered under this new Retirement Visa Insurance regime and exactly who is going to be covered remains to be seen.