Following the recent announcement regarding health insurance requirements for foreigners living in Thailand there remains a great deal of uncertainty – the following represent my understanding of the current situation and is naturally subject to change when more details are released.
Based on conversations with the various authorities, and in line with the advice given on the government’s consular (http://www.consular.go.th), the new requirement only currently applies to those applying for the non-immigrant visa “O-X” (Long Stay Visa 10 years). This is the relatively new visa aimed at those over 50 years old with the initial visa granted for 5 years, with the ability to extend for a further 5 years. It comes with other requirements around significant cash balances held in a Thai bank account and is only available to residents of 14 countries. The health policies currently shown on the TGIA website (https://longstay.tgia.org/) have only been approved by the insurance regulator for meeting the requirements of this visa type.
However, I understand that many foreigners residing in Thailand are on the “O-A” visa type which lasts initially for a single year but can be renewed or extended annually as long as the financial, and other, conditions are met showing the person can support themselves adequately. Currently, the new health insurance requirements do not apply to this visa type. However, the health insurance requirement is expected to become a legal requirement for the O-A visas, new and extending, within the next 3-6 months. As of today the insurance regulator has not approved any polices as meeting the immigration requirements of this visa. They expect to start accepting applications from insurers in the next few weeks – at this stage, there is no guarantee that the health polices approved for the O-X visa will be acceptable for the O-A visa.
The other visa many people may have entered Thailand on is the non-immigrant “O”. Initially granted for 90 days, this visa type but can subsequently be extended for a full year and then renewed on an annual basis – often referred to as an “extension of stay based on retirement”. It has similar requirements as the “O-A” visa to ensure applicants can support themselves while residing in Thailand. Currently, this visa type has not been mentioned in relation to the new requirements for health insurance.
There are a few specific areas I am continuing to seek clarity on, particularly around the use of co-pays / deductibles / excesses on these policies and how the immigration authorities will treat any excluded medical conditions and/or waiting periods. Once we understand these details further Aetna will be able to recommend policies to their current customer base and expat residents in Thailand that will meet the Thai immigration requirements.
It should be remembered that the cover levels, especially the in-patient level, set by the visa requirements are a minimum amount for the purposes of applying for the visa. Each individual should review if this level of cover would be adequate given their own health situation, medical history and preference for treating hospital.
As further information comes to light I will share this with you through this forum.
In the meantime if anyone has questions specific to their individual situation please feel free to mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org.