Under the new regulation, foreigners applying Non-Immigrant O-A visas and one-year permits-to-stay will have to have health insurance providing B40,000 coverage for outpatient treatment and B400,000 for inpatient. (See story here.)
“We will ask the Immigration Bureau, the Foreign Ministry and the Insurance Department for additional details and implementation guidelines next week,” Saowapa Jongkittipong, who leads the Health Service Support Department’s International Health Division, said yesterday (May 15), reported The Nation. (See story here.)
“Current holders of this visa will have to produce proof of their health insurance for visa renewal,” she said.
Dr Natthawut Prasertsiripong, Chief of the MoPH Department of Health Service Support, in announcing the new regulation last Wednesday (May 8) explained that the requirement was being introduced because foreigners in their elder years staying on retirement visas have more health issues than other foreigners staying on other types of visas
“More than that, this is to protect the Ministry of Public Health, which is forced to pay for medical care for foreigners who do not have the funds to pay for their hospital bills,” Dr Natthawut added.
Ms Saowapa yesterday said that last year foreigners incurred B305 million in unpaid medical bills, while foreigners in 2017 left B346mn in unpaid medical bills, The Nation reported.
If categorised by the number of medical visits, statistics show about one-fifth of foreign patients did not pay their bills, said the report.
“For instance, foreigners made 3.42 million medical visits last year, and did not pay for 680,000 of them, while in 2017, foreigners made 3.3 million medical visits and did not pay for 565,000 of them,” the report added.
However, the report did not differentiate whether these figures included unpaid medical bills incurred by short-stay tourists injured while on holiday in Thailand, or by elderly expats staying on retirement visas, or both.
Ms Saowapa said further discussions among relevant agencies would help establish which diseases would be covered under the mandatory health insurance, noted the report.
The ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs have been instructed to inform all foreigners of these new requirements. Currently, citizens of only 14 countries require health insurance when seeking Thai visas for five years and above, the report added.