With my friend, the ambassador, I enjoyed talking about our many visits to Thailand and the work with economists associated with trade unions during the past 35 years and many Thai leaders from different walks of life I had the opportunity to greet, namely at conferences.
That exchange inspired the decision at the age of 75 to move to Phuket nine years ago. My wife and I brought, as many others have done, most of our home, including our furniture, a multitude of books and a piano plus smaller things of importance to our lives.
My wife and I have improved our health living in the tropics and for sure also with the help of the good doctors and nurses we have met here.
When June 2020 comes we will literally be thrown out at the age of 85 because we are unable to pay for health insurance costing B300,000 a year or deposit almost half a million baht in a bank account until we are on our deathbed. That is in itself is a legitimate requirement in theory, because we should give the government a guarantee that we can pay for a supposed hospitalisation in the coming years, while my Swedish friends with a Thai spouse will not be required to have that.
The health insurance may, however, not deliver and pay for a hospitalisation since no health insurance will cover the risks that follow from our health history – and how shall Immigration be able to decide whether or not to accept even obvious non-functioning insurance policies until it is proven that the insurance company will not pay for hospitalisations.
When we moved here we were for four years covered by the public health insurance coverage in Belgium, where we previously lived for 35 years. That insurance covered us each year for hospitalisations of up to 90 consecutive days and for outpatient treatment, but was taken away from us in 2014 when the EU introduced the regulation of hospital care for EU citizens wherever they lived in Europe.
However, during these past nine years we have paid several hundred thousand baht for doctors, operations and the physical training my wife has received at Vachira* and now at Chalong Hospital**. That has kept my wife fit enough to enjoy life after a stroke 15 years ago.
We have a housekeeper that has said no to double the pay from others. She promised from the beginning to stay with us until the end of our lives. We will have to leave things behind and return to Europe. There is no way we can manage a house of our own at this time in life anywhere in Europe, if we now can find a new home. For sure not such as the one we have here and are able to manage with the help of our housekeeper.
I don't think we can even afford to take all our things back to Europe, our housekeeper can make better use of many of our things.
I just want to put the question to your readers. Was I naive to think I could have a peaceful retirement in Thailand?
* Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town
* Accident & Emergency Centre at the yet-to-open Chalong Hospital