Phuket Immigration Police Chief Col Kathathorn Kumthieng confirmed to The Phuket News this week that his office has yet to receive an order instructing his office to start enforcing the mandatory health insurance requirement, approved by the Cabinet on April 2.
The insurance policy must provide up to B40,000 coverage for outpatient treatment and up to B400,000 for inpatient treatment during their stay in the Kingdom of Thailand, Dr Natthawut Prasertsiripong, Chief of the Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Health Service Support, announced in May.
The requirement applies to all new applicants for one-year non-immigrant O-A visas, and for those applying to “renew” their one-year permits-to-stay, Dr Natthawut said.
Officials wasted no time in providing support for enforcing the policy. The Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC), the national regulatory agency for issuing insurance policies, worked with private insurance providers to develop and offer seven policies to match the new requirement made available through a special website set up at longstay.tgia.org.
All seven policies have been approved by the OIC.
However, as of Wednesday (July 31), no Royal Thai Embassies or consulates abroad contacted and checked by The Phuket News made any mention of the mandatory health insurance requirement in their details of visa requirements for O-A visas.
The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) as of Wednesday also made no mention of mandatory health insurance as a requirement for being issued a “Non-Immigrant Visa O-A (Long Stay)”.
Likewise, Col Kathathorn confirmed to The Phuket News on Wednesday, “Mandatory health insurance is not required when applying for a one-year extension of stay on a Non-Immigrant O-A Visa.”
While acknowledging that many visa requirements required by the MFA and permit-to-stay requirements required by the Immigration Bureau were the same, Col Kathathorn said that any requirements mandated by any other government department as irrelevant to his office.
“It doesn’t matter what any other official or government agency says or thinks, there has been no change about the requirement to have health insurance,” he said.
Col Kathathorn also assured that he would do his best to give “fair warning” to foreigners if the rules do change.
“We will announce any change at least 60 days before new rules come into effect. Phuket Immigration is always in line with other organisations. We do not instigate urgent action without a plan,” he said.
Col Kathathorn did point out that mandatory health insurance was required for a “Non-Immigrant Visa O-X (Long Stay 10 years)” – a special visa created by Cabinet in November 2016 specifically for foreign retirees to stay in Thailand.
The O-X visa is available to foreigners 50 years or older, and only to holders of passports from Japan, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, the US and the UK.
“The Non-Immigrant Visa O-X is valid for 10 years. The recipient is granted a five-year permit to stay on entry, and is renewed for another five years after that,” he said.
There are currently no foreigner staying in Phuket on an O-X visa, Col Kathathorn confirmed.
Col Kathathorn on Wednesday was unable to give a specific number of foreigners staying in Phuket on an O-A visa.
However, he did confirm that Phuket Immigration from January through December last year issued extensions to stay to 4,909 foreigners staying in Phuket on some form of Non-Immigrant O type visa.
From January to July this year, Phuket Immigration issued extensions to stay to 2,422 persons staying in Phuket on a form of Non-immigrant O type visa.