To qualify for a retirement visa to Thailand, applicants are required to hold at least one kind of insurance, health cover. Many retirees will relocate to Thailand partly because of the warm climate. Not only can it help to alleviate conditions like arthritis, but the extra sunshine provides ample vitamin D that contributes towards preventing bone density loss. The friendly people, low cost of living, rich culture, and delicious food also help to make Thailand the ideal destination for anyone looking for an enjoyable and laid-back lifestyle. 

With health insurance being mandatory to hold a retirement visa, you do not have to worry much about healthcare. The country has a robust medical tourism sector that has become popular thanks to the many well-trained specialists, state of the art technology, and affordability of healthcare. 

Foreigners are required to have health insurance from an approved Thai provider from the Thai General Insurance Association. 

Benefits of Health Insurance

There are good reasons to want to take up health insurance besides the fact that you are required to do so for a retirement visa. 

Guard against the unexpected

No one wakes up expecting to get sick or have an accident. However, sometimes that is just what happens. And depending on the seriousness of the condition, you or your dependents could end up needing costly healthcare. From consultations and diagnostic testing to medications and surgeries, medical expenses can really add up. 

Most people lack enough money to pay for the more extreme situations out-of-pocket. The health insurance cover helps to cover these costs by simply paying the affordable monthly or annual premium. Like other insurance, it works off of pooled contributions or premiums paid by multiple policyholders. The cover also helps guard against medical inflation that comes from the normal rise in the cost of treatments. 

Protects savings

Certain financial requirements must be met to apply for and renew a retirement visa. Visa holders are expected to maintain certain bank balances that prove they will be able to adequately fend for themselves while in Thailand. The retirement visa does not permit holders to work here. 

Without health insurance, a visa holder runs the risk of having to dig into these savings to cover medical costs. If it results in not being able to meet the stringent financial requirements, it may mean having your visa revoked. Protecting your savings should be a key goal as a retirement visa holder. 

Peace of mind

Health insurance can provide great peace of mind. Knowing that in case of a medical emergency you can tap into this service to cover unexpected expenses, means you can focus on other aspects of your life without worry. 

More so when you are older and the risk of certain lifestyle and age-related diseases increases. And when you are no longer in your native country and may have some concerns about how you will handle any serious medical complication that arises. 

The requirement for health insurance by the Thai government is in the interest of all concerned parties.  There is a large amount of unpaid medical debt that has built up due to foreigners living in Thailand on retirement visas. By introducing the requirement for health insurance in 2019, the government has merely been seeking to prevent the worsening of this problem. It is also why this requirement was only introduced for those seeking retirement visas. 

Health Insurance Requirements

Those that hold a retirement visa are required to have health insurance that will cover the duration of their stay. This cover should:

  • Be at least THB 40,000 for outpatient treatment, and,
  • A minimum of THB 400,000 for inpatient treatment

These policies may be bought from either local or foreign insurers. If holding more than one policy, the sum amount covered should not be less than the amounts stipulated for Thai policies. The Thai government does encourage visa holders to consider this the bare minimum and take up cover that exceeds these limits. 

What should I do if I do not qualify for health insurance?

Some retirees may not be eligible for health insurance due to having achieved a certain age or having pre-existing medical conditions that disqualify them. If this is a problem you are facing, there are a few ways you can get around this. 

A possible solution could be to apply for a non-immigrant O visa rather than the non-immigrant O-A visa, which is the retirement visa. You should state that the purpose of your travel is “in view of retirement”. Note that the non-immigrant O visa must be applied for outside Thailand, is single entry, and valid for just 90 days. Ensure that you meet all other requirements for this visa including financial conditions. If you want to leave and return at some point during this time, be sure to apply for a re-entry permit before leaving at a local immigration office or international airport. You can apply for a visa extension within the last 30 days of your visa’s validity and if granted, can last for one year. 

Another option could be to apply for a 60-day tourist visa. You can apply for this from any country outside of Thailand. This means that those that are already holders of retirement visas and hoping to extend their stay may be able to simply travel to a neighbouring country and get a tourist visa to Thailand for re-entry. If queried by a Thai immigration official, you may state that you intend to switch to a non-immigrant O visa. If you proceed with this change of visa, ensure you meet the other requirements. If granted the non-immigrant O visa, you can apply for an extension during the last 30 days of the visa. When applying for an extension you are not required to provide health insurance. They will however need proof of funds and address. 

If you marry a Thai national, you may apply for a marriage visa. You will need to cancel your current non-immigrant O-A visa or extension, depart, and then apply for a non-immigrant O visa based on marriage at a Thai embassy or consulate outside of Thailand. There are certain financial requirements to be met but there is no health insurance coverage requirement.

Exempt Stamp & On-Arrival Visa Extended to boost Tourism in Thailand from 1st October 2022

Exempt Stamp & On-Arrival Visa Extended to boost Tourism in Thailand from 1st October 2022

The Center for COVID – 19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has approved longer Exempt Visa Stamp and On-Arrival Visas to Thailand starting from October 1st until 31st March 2023 as part of efforts to revitalize the economy due to the pandemic.

Passport holders that entered Thailand on an Exempt stamp for 30 days will be allowed to enter on a 45 days Exempt Stamp from October 1st and On-Arrival visa that entered Thailand on 15 days will be now allow to enter on 30 days On-Arrival Visa.