Every year, thousands of retirees from around the world choose Thailand as their preferred destination for a relaxing retirement.
Beyond the low cost of living, beautiful beaches, and relaxed lifestyle, retirees chose Thailand because of the relatively straightforward visa requirements.
Before October 31, 2019, the visa available for retirees over the age of 50 only required proof of enough funds to sustain themselves while living in the Land of Smiles. This was in the form of a deposit of at least 800,000 Thai baht in your Thai bank account, proof of income of at least 65,000 Thai baht per month, or a combination of both.
What You’ll Learn in this Article:
- What Are The Health Insurance Requirements For A Thailand Retirement Visa?
- What Is A Non-Immigrant O-A Retirement Visa?
- How Do I Find The Best Retirement Health Insurance For Thailand?
- What Other Visa Options Are Available For Retirees In Thailand?
However, in May 2019, a report showed that foreigners in Thailand had left unpaid hospital bills of 305 million Thai baht and 349 million Thai baht in 2018 and 2017, respectively.
Of the 3.42 million ex-pats and foreigners who visited Thai hospitals in 2018, 680,000 left the facility without paying their bills. In 2017, of the 3.3 million foreigners visiting Thai hospitals, 565,000 did not pay their medical expenses.
The report stated that of the unpaid medical bills, the majority were left by ex-pats of retirement age. Hence, just four months later a new requirement for health insurance for retirees was implemented.
These rules for retirement visa health insurance remain in place today in addition to the other requirements such as proof of funds.
It is also worth noting that due to the coronavirus pandemic, those who plan to enter Thailand on any type of visa currently require a certificate showing they have COVID health insurance.
Understanding the Mandatory Requirements for Health Insurance for Retirees in Thailand
The rule regarding health insurance for retirees to Thailand stipulates that the applicant (if applying in your home country) or visa holder (if applying for an extension within Thailand) must have proof of health insurance with coverage of at least 40,000 Thai baht out-patient and 400,000 Thai baht in-patient.
Put simply, the health insurance policy must cover medical fees of at least the amount stated above either in Thai baht from a local insurance provider or the equivalent from an off-shore insurance company.
The rules apply to anyone either applying for or extending a non-immigrant O-A type visa, more commonly referred to as the Thai retirement visa.
The idea behind the mandatory health insurance requirement is to ensure those over the age of 50 will automatically have major medical expenses covered, therefore reducing the number of unpaid hospital bills in the country.
The Non-Immigrant O-A Retirement Visa
The non-immigrant O-A visa affected by these rules is often called the retirement visa. It is a long stay Thai visa that allows those over 50 years of age to enter and stay in Thailand for periods of one year at a time.
The visa is obtained initially from a Thai embassy or consulate in your home country and stamped for one year upon entry to Thailand. You can then extend it by one year for an unlimited period.
Anyone applying for a non-immigrant O-A visa must meet certain requirements, including:
- Proof of at least 800,000 Thai baht deposit in a Thai bank account, statements of a monthly income of at least 65,000 Thai baht per month, or a combination of both deposit and monthly income.
- A medical certificate showing the applicant does not have a prohibitive disease including syphilis, leprosy, elephantiasis, tuberculosis, or drug addictions.
- A police clearance certificate showing the applicant has no criminal record.
- Health insurance with coverage of at least 40,000 Thai baht out-patient and 400,000 Thai baht in-patient.
Finding the Best Retirement Visa Insurance Coverage
There are a few options for getting the right health insurance to cover the Thailand retirement visa requirements.
Firstly, you may already have coverage from your health insurance policy in your home country. If you have a worldwide insurance policy, the chances are you are covered for medical bills in Thailand.
Check with your current insurance provider that the health insurance policy meets the minimum requirements for Thai retirement visa coverage. If it does, ask them to provide you with a certificate stating that you are covered.
While this is a viable option, I have heard cases where health insurance policies from foreign companies were not accepted in relation to the retirement visa. Therefore, a safer bet is to use a local Thai insurance provider.
The benefits of using a Thai insurance company for retirement visa health insurance are that the policy is guaranteed to have recognition by immigration officials and the insurance provider will likely have connections with Thai hospitals for a smooth process should you need to use the insurance.
Premiums are also fairly reasonable for local health insurance policies, with comparison sites such as Mister Prakan specializing in plans to cover applicants for the retirement visa. They offer plans from insurance companies such as AXA, Taivivat, LMG, Viriyah, and Pacific Cross that are listed as approved non-immigrant O-A insurance providers.
Some insurance providers will offer coverage for retirees up to 75 years old. Unfortunately, none provide policies for those aged 80 and over.
Visa Options If You Can’t Get Health Insurance in Thailand
Non-Immigrant O Retirement Visa
If you are applying for a retirement visa in your home country and do not qualify for the minimum health insurance requirements, you can apply for a non-immigrant O visa instead of a non-immigrant O-A visa.
Unlike the non-immigrant O-A visa, the non-immigrant O visa will provide you with a 90-day stamp upon arrival to Thailand. After that, you can prepare the necessary documents and apply for a one-year extension of stay at your local immigration office.
When making an application for a non-immigrant O visa, state your purpose of travel as “considering retirement”.
Change from Non-Immigrant O-A Visa to Non-Immigrant O Retirement Visa
If you already have a non-immigrant O-A visa and cannot meet the health insurance requirements to extend your stay at immigration the only option is to leave the country.
Once your current visa has expired, you can return to your home country or visit a neighboring country and return either with a non-immigrant O visa or a tourist visa.
After re-arrival to Thailand, make sure you quickly sort out the financial requirements and make an application to either extend your non-immigrant O visa or change from a tourist visa to a non-immigrant O visa.
Again, this method does not require you to meet the minimum health insurance requirements.
Change from Non-Immigrant O-A Visa to Non-Immigrant O Marriage Visa
Another option, if you are married to a Thai national, is to change your non-immigrant O-A visa to a non-immigrant O visa based on marriage.
This option also required you to leave Thailand and apply for a non-immigrant O marriage visa whether in your home country or at a Thai embassy or consulate in a neighboring country.
After entering Thailand, you can extend the non-immigrant O visa based on marriage to a Thai national by one year at a time.
You will also need to present proof of income or deposit in your Thai bank account when making the application.
While the health insurance requirements for Thai retirement visas may seem inconvenient, it is probably best that you have some form of health insurance while in Thailand anyway. Let us know about your experiences when applying for a non-immigrant O-A retirement visa for Thailand in the comments below.