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Thai Retirement Visa Insurance: Only for Applications Abroad?

Translation of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Thai Retirement Visas specifically the insurance scheme that has recently being announced with respect to Thai retirement visas. There have been some articles on the internet; there has been some information posted throughout the internet and there seems to be a growing sort of meme if you will within the collective consciousness of the retiree expat community here in the Kingdom of Thailand with respect to the notion that the insurance scheme which was announced mid-May 2019 may only pertain to those who are applying for Thai Visas, specifically Thai Retirement Visas, from Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad and that these regulations may not pertain to extensions and by extensions I mean extensions of stay which are sought here in the Kingdom as opposed to being sought abroad. 

I am going to get a little deeper into that here in a moment but to preface this video, let me be clear. As of yet, the full regulatory scheme on this issue has yet to be promulgated and until such time as we have seen the actual regulations being brought out, it is very difficult to say with any certainty exactly what this is going to look like. So to one degree or another, this whole video and another video we have done contemporaneously with this one regarding extensions specifically are somewhat speculative. It is difficult to say with certainty what this is going to look like but based on the announcements, based on translations of the actual announcements and the actual quotes from the various parties concerned, I think it is relatively safe to presume that insurance will apply to both extensions and more pertinent to this video, visa applications being sought from abroad. So the O-A Visas that are being sought for example in the United States, UK, Europe etc., Australia for example. These folks I think are going to have to deal with the new insurance requirements. However, and I will get to this later video, I think that the insurance requirements will operate somewhat differently for those who are applying especially for their first O-A Visa abroad as opposed to those who are seeking extensions later here in the Kingdom and that is just something that has just always kind of been a fact of life within Thai Immigration. Ministry of Foreign Affairs regulations have always been rather different compared to Thai Immigration regulations and the reasoning for that is Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Embassies and Consulates of Thailand which are stationed abroad, have to deal with situations on the ground in their host countries and for that reason they are permitted a little bit more latitude with respect to how they apply Immigration regulations on foreigners seeking Thai visas in those locations.

So let me just get into this. There was a recent announcement from the Ministry of Public Health here in Thailand. I am going to go ahead and stick that up; it's in Thai. I am going to go ahead and read our translation to this. The thing to take away from this is that our translation is for informational purposes only. It should not be viewed as the definitive translation and moreover it is also a translation of an announcement of a regulatory scheme, the regulations for which have yet to be rolled out. So again, there is some level of vagueness in this but I think as you watch this video you will be able to go ahead and see the finer points of this tweezed out as we go through this. So let me quote directly, "The Ministry of Health has added additional criteria to the conditions regarding insurance for foreign senior citizens to reduce the losses caused to hospitals. The Ministry of Health has advised that they are setting additional conditions regarding health insurance for foreigners who have a one-year Non-immigrant Visa Type O-A. This was passed by the Ministry on April 2nd, 2019.  This is a new condition for health protection for tourists which will also reduce the burden of unpaid medical costs for hospitals. Doctor Natthawut Prasertsiripong,  the Director of Health Services Support of the Ministry of Health advised that following the decision by the Ministry to increase conditions regarding Health Insurance for foreigners who have a 1 year Non-immigrant Visa O-A category. The pilot program will commence with senior citizens over the age of 50 who have a one-year visa and can extend year by year in order to protect life and health of the foreigner as it has been noticed that senior citizens in this age group have a chance to have more health problems than other visa holders. This condition has been set to protect the hospitals because some patients do not have enough assets to pay for their medical bills making the hospital have to take on the burden of unpaid bills.  The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration Department are now amending the relevant regulations and also agreed that the Insurance Companies arrange channels to buy the insurance online in order to provide convenience for foreigners.  Dr. Natthawut further stated that the criteria for health insurance for foreigners with a one-year Non-immigrant Visa Type O-A requires the visa holders to have Thai Health Insurance to cover them for the whole of their stay in Thailand with the amount of no less than Bt. 40,000 outpatient and no less than Bt.400,000 inpatient.  The policy can be bought online at https://longstay.tgia.org. For those who have purchased a Health Insurance policy from a foreign company must have no less than the amount of insurance as set by Thailand and that policy can be submitted when applying for the Visa. However further discussion must be taken to find a method of inspecting the policies. Furthermore those who have health risks which are higher than what the Insurance Companies can accept, the Insurance Companies have suggested that an additional amount be deposited in the bank in order that the Foreigner has sufficient funds for living, health problems etc. while they are in Thailand. This must be further discussed with the Immigration Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”  So things to take away from this I thought were notable. First of all, they are noting Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to change the regulatory structure. Ministry of Foreign Affairs has authority over the Thai Embassies and Consulates which are stationed abroad, outside of Thailand so we will see a regulatory change with respect to the rules under which someone can be issued a Thai Retirement Visa and I think it is pretty safe to presume that in the coming weeks we are going to see the requirement that insurance be shown by the applicant who is seeking an O-A Visa from abroad. The other thing that I thought was very interesting. It specifically notes in here that other types of insurance are possible. It doesn't have to be purchased in Thailand but that the insurance must comport with the 40,000 Baht outpatient requirement and 400,000 baht inpatient requirement for those that are applying. They also note specifically that they are going to have to come up with regulations under which the Officers at Thai Embassies abroad adjudicate these matters in order to determine whether or not a policy does in fact meet the sufficiency requirement for Thai Immigration here in the Kingdom.  So I thought that was notable.  

Now there has been some confusion that has come up here recently wherein people have been speculating as to whether or not this only applies to those seeking their initial visa abroad. There seems to be the thought that this is for an initial O-A Visa only and that extensions only require the financial requirements, evidence of which is money in a bank account usually here in Thailand, or evidence of income coming into Thailand by pensioners and retirees. In a recent article from thaivisa.com,  the article was titled: Mandatory Health Insurance for Foreigners Aged Over 50 in Thailand: Why it May Not Affect You, the new requirements which were approved by Cabinet in April and announced by the Ministry of Public Health and they note the same announcement we just read the translation of, state that people applying or renewing or rather reapplying for a Non-immigrant O-A Visa now need to have health insurance from either a Thai Insurance Company or from a policy bought overseas. The requirement for mandatory insurance appears to only affect those applying for a Non-immigrant Visa O-A; a Non-immigrant Visa O-A can only be applied for through a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate overseas. An extension of stay based on retirement can only be obtained at an Immigration Office within Thailand. Now I think it is clear for the purposes of this video if you are looking to apply for Thai Retirement Visa abroad, I don't think anybody is in disagreement over whether or not you have to show insurance; I think that is clear. Now if you buy it online you can go ahead and show the evidence of having purchased your Thai Retirement Visa Insurance from one of the companies that specifically fit in with this plan or more importantly I think for those watching this video, if you already have coverage you can prove that up at a Thai Embassy or Consulate and so long as it meets the sufficiency of the adjudicating Officer, I think it is safe to presume you can go ahead and get your O-A Visa. Now that being said, the regulations on this have yet to come down so it is difficult to foresee exactly what the requirements are for that Adjudicating Officer. Keep in mind there a certain types of insurance, especially government-sponsored insurance, which may not cover an individual here in the Kingdom. So for that reason one may have to go ahead and get a separate policy. My personal opinion is if you don't already have insurance, it is probably a good idea to just go ahead and get the Thai Insurance because there's less confusion or there is less clarification needed on the part of the Adjudicating Officer for that visa application. That Adjudicating Officer does not need to go through a great deal of analysis. They can just say "oh this is one of the approved policies. You have it. Okay." Moving on, that is the adjudication that they do.

So the thing to take away from this video there are other sources that I cite in our prior video on extensions specifically which in my opinion show pretty clearly that I think this is going to apply to extensions as well. I urge you to go ahead and check out that video. It was put up just before this one; a day before this one to be precise. That being said, for those applying abroad I think definitely you are going to have to deal with this insurance scheme. It looks like this is going to come into effect July 1, 2019; possibly before that but we definitely see July being noted as the date of a bringing this into effect so it is probable we are going to see this pretty soon. The other thing to think about with respect to this is I am not going to go into the analysis of why I don't think that presuming that this does not apply to extensions is not a great idea; I have done that already in the other video. But the thing to keep in mind with respect to this video is, if you

are looking to come in on an O-A and only show Insurance once, I think that is imprudent. I think moving forward you are going to have to show insurance not only at your initial application for an O-A Retirement Visa but subsequent to that  you are going to have to show insurance when you go ahead and apply for a subsequent extension of stay here in the Kingdom of Thailand.