What Insurance Is Required to Qualify for A Retirement Visa?

Embarking on the journey towards retirement in Thailand is an exciting prospect for many individuals looking to embrace a laid-back lifestyle amidst a warm climate, rich culture, and affordable living. However, a crucial aspect of this transition involves understanding the mandatory health insurance requirement for obtaining a retirement visa. In this article, we will delve into the necessity of health insurance, explore the benefits it provides, and discuss alternative visa options for those who may not qualify for the required health cover.

Retiring to Thailand: Health Insurance and Benefits

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.

Retirees enjoying the sunny weather in Thailand.
Retirees enjoying the sunny weather in Thailand.

Mandatory Health Insurance for Retirement Visa

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

  • Guard against the unexpected
  • Protects savings
  • Peace of mind

In our experience, 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

At Thai Visa Expert, we have seen that 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

From our perspective, 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

In our view, 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.

Importance of Health Insurance Requirement

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

Health Insurance Options for Visa Holders in Thailand

A minimum of THB 400,000 for inpatient treatment is required for health insurance coverage. These policies may be bought from 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.

Ineligibility for Health Insurance

Some retirees may not qualify for health insurance due to age or pre-existing medical conditions. If facing this issue, there are several ways to address it.

Alternative Solutions

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. 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 which, if granted, can last for one year.

Another option could be to apply for a 60-day tourist visa from any country outside of Thailand. This means that those already holding retirement visas and hoping to extend their stay may be able to simply travel to a neighboring 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, health insurance is not required, but proof of funds and address are necessary.

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 no health insurance coverage requirement.

In our experience, retirees facing age or pre-existing medical condition barriers have found alternative solutions by applying for different visa types such as the non-immigrant O visa or 60-day tourist visa. This has allowed them to meet the other visa requirements and continue their stay without the need for health insurance coverage.

Conclusion: Understanding the health insurance requirements for a retirement visa in Thailand is essential for a stress-free stay. Health insurance not only provides financial protection in case of unexpected medical needs but also ensures that your savings remain intact. If you face challenges in meeting the health insurance criteria, exploring alternative visa options or seeking professional advice can be beneficial in navigating through the visa application process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Health insurance is required as a mandatory provision to hold a retirement visa in Thailand. The health insurance should be from an approved Thai provider from the Thai General Insurance Association.

The health insurance cover should amount to at least THB 40,000 for outpatient treatment and a minimum of THB 400,000 for inpatient treatment.

If you do not qualify for health insurance, one possible solution could be to apply for a non-immigrant O visa instead of the non-immigrant O-A retirement visa. Another option could be to apply for a 60-day tourist visa from a country outside of Thailand. If you marry a Thai national, you may apply for a marriage visa, which has certain financial requirements but no health insurance coverage requirement.

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