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Health Check: Phuket Immigration confirms mandatory health insurance for O-A ‘retirement’ visas not in force

Health Check: Phuket Immigration confirms mandatory health insurance for O-A ‘retirement’ visas not in force

PHUKET: Foreigners applying for an extension stay under a Non-immigrant O-A visa, nicknamed the “retirement visa”, still do not yet have to provide proof of mandatory health insurance coverage as warned to be introduced “imminently” by senior officials in Bangkok months ago.

By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Saturday 3 August 2019, 09:00AM

An officer at the Phuket Immigration Office in Phuket Town holds up the application form for an extension to stay for those applying under a Non-immigrant O-A visa. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

An officer at the Phuket Immigration Office in Phuket Town holds up the application form for an extension to stay for those applying under a Non-immigrant O-A visa. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

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.

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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.


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ematt | 09 August 2019 - 14:41:18

Yes Gerry you are right - it's not the billions in investments by the Japanese and Singaporeans each year that props up the Thai economy, its the old white western men that marry bargirls and buy cows for the in-laws upcountry! I don't know why the Thai government doesn't sit up and pay attention!

Christy Sweet | 09 August 2019 - 12:50:00

Good Samaritans? That's a laugh. Expats in Thailand  want women as personal house servants and sex providers.

GerryT81 | 08 August 2019 - 18:11:37

Yes,Kurt is right.Expats like him contribute so much to the wellbeing of this country.Some even take pity on Thai woman and merry them.They are not low life's,more like a good samaritan.They try to change this country for the better and all goes unheard.Shouldn't Thailand be more grateful for all those efforts made by him and others?

Kurt | 07 August 2019 - 14:53:17

Mr ematt, a foreigner living in Thailand on a Retirement Visa with 800,000 thb in a thai bank, probably owning a apartment or  house ( with land lease) is not a low life broken down foreigner. Actually he/she provide a lot. Gardeners, pool cleaners, shopping, outdoor eating, car buying/services, Married with thai, good children schooling, etc etc.

ematt | 07 August 2019 - 12:24:32

Re: "O-X 10 year visa. Must have 3,000,000 thb for this visa in a thai bank."  Honestly his should be the standard. It would go a long way toward cleaning up the problem of low life, broken down foreigners settling in this country. 

Kurt | 04 August 2019 - 17:43:13

O-X 10 year visa. Did google a bit about it. Still yearly a 'renewal' stamp needed, need to be 'renewed' after 5 years. Must have  3,000,000 thb for this visa in a thai bank. Nothing convenient for foreign applicant. Just thai money business. Not interested in it.

Christy Sweet | 04 August 2019 - 13:20:24

Never heard of the  O-X 10 year visa, but would like to know more about it

Foot | 03 August 2019 - 16:41:05

It seems that many new "Laws" are floated to see what the response will be.  They aren't actually a law, yet.
This seemed to be the same.


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