Thailand appears to change medical insurance policy for visitors

The latest insurance regulations for international visitors pose many new questions.

The latest opinion from the Department of Consular Affairs and the Tourism Authority of Thailand specifies that the medical coverage required of all foreigners entering the country must be broad: it must not relate only to coronavirus disease. The English text reads: “Medical insurance with a minimum coverage of US $ 50,000 should be a broad policy, not specific to Covid-19 only, and cover hospital costs. “

Previously, government announcements had limited future coverage to Covid-related illnesses or simply stated “medical insurance” without amplification. The announcement caught both Thai and foreign insurance companies off guard. For example, the Thai General Insurance for Foreigners website website, 72 hours before the new rules went into effect, still offered Covid insurance and coverage only for a minimum of US $ 100,000 (not half). Yes, people are confused.

If confirmed, the final “clarification” means that Covid-only insurance will no longer be valid for entry into the kingdom through the Thailand Pass portal. People already here, taking a short trip abroad and returning, may find that their old insurance coverage does not allow them to return. Seniors may find that they cannot get medical insurance that is “general” rather than “specific to Covid”, or have to purchase worthless policies. To add to the confusion, some immigration offices are already advising clients that annual extensions of stay for holders of “non-immigrant O / A” will require US $ 100,000 in coverage to qualify.

Foreigners with work permits have been told that they may not need additional insurance as they are already affiliated with the Thai social security system that covers hospitalization. However, their exemption apparently requires approval from the highest level of government.

It appears that the latest US $ 50,000 bombshell requires general medical coverage for the duration of the visa, or a residence permit, effectively granted which can vary between 15 days (visa on arrival) to one year (0 / A annual visa) with multiple alternatives between. There is no indication yet whether the insurance coverage requirement will be maintained for extensions at immigration offices. In the past, most foreigners did not need to present insurance documents for extensions.

Many bloggers on social media are already arguing that the new rule is acceptable, because traveling without medical insurance these days is ridiculous. But the point is, the rules could just create a vast cauldron of confusion and deter many international travelers from even thinking about applying for a visa. Additionally, general medical insurance is expensive and Thailand could pull out of the market unless it keeps pace with its competition. Most regular travel insurance for vacationers does not cover large amounts and certainly does not guarantee hospitalization willy-nilly. There are many conditions, exceptions and shortcomings of insurers.

With regard to the elderly, Thailand has a formal policy of encouraging “rich” retirees to come and live in Thailand. They will be offered long-term visas in exchange for purchasing new condominium units or lavish investment in Thai bonds. Not to mention being excused from 90 days of reporting. But it appears that an 80-year-old billionaire arriving in a private jet may be excluded from the program because he or she cannot purchase limited medical insurance. What happened to the concept of self-insurance for the wealthy? An overhaul is certainly needed.

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