Latest Test and Go rules add to health insurance confusion

Visitors to Thailand are often confused by conflicting health insurance rules.

The latest Test and Go rules, from February 1, leave the health insurance requirement at US$50,000, or just over 1.5 million baht. However, the Council for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) reminds applicants that if their particular policy does not meet the full hospital bill in the event of Covid infection in Thailand, then the visitor must compensate the cash difference.

Experience has shown that some policies do not reimburse the full amount of intensive care or require the claimant to pay the hospital before the insurance company actually reimburses the costs. Or find a loophole. Some other policies failed because the patient sought treatment in an expensive private hospital rather than a public hospital or even a converted “hospital”. The CCSA announcement means the visitor can no longer rely on Thai government funds to make up the difference in the event of a dispute with the insurer. It is suggested that travelers can take out additional Covid insurance on arrival, but no details yet.

Despite earlier rumors to the contrary, the latest Test and Go rules will not require general medical coverage beyond Covid infection. Policies designed exclusively for Covid will continue to be acceptable. The popular Thai General Insurance Association policy, for example, covers anyone up to age 99. The age of the applicant does not matter, only the country of departure and the length of stay dictate the premium. The average cost is around 4,000 baht per month. All the details about As with all insurance policies, there are caveats and exclusions.

Entering Thailand and then staying here falls under different Covid rules.

However, if the foreign applicant requires a visa as well as the Test and Go authorization – which is limited to 30 days visa exemption on arrival – they may incur additional insurance costs. The Thai Embassy in London, for example, specifies that a general health insurance (non-Covid specific) of at least USD 100,000, or just over three million baht, is required for the special tourist visa ( STV), the one-year O/A visa for retirees and even the O visa if it is based on retirement. But other visas, for example for Business or Marriage or Education or Elite, do not have the additional insurance requirement. Nor is the 60-day repeating “Covid extension” that has been around for two years as land borders remain closed to most foreigners. It is due for another renewal or cancellation or review next week.

This discrimination persists when applying for an extension of stay with Thai immigration. Those extending the STV or O/A retirement are required to have continued insurance, but the rule does not apply to other visa holders, including those with retirement-based O. The vast majority of foreigners do not need any insurance to extend their stay in Thailand. A little-known and little-used 10-year O/X visa, introduced in 2016 for 14 nationalities, requires continued insurance. It has complex application rules and requires a police certificate in the country of origin.

From April, a tourist tax of 300 baht will be added to all air tickets upon arrival. Some early reports claimed this would eliminate the need for any traveler’s insurance, which is complete nonsense. In reality, this slush fund will be used to upgrade temples and tourist sites and to occasionally disburse on a discretionary basis when a bad accident (overturning of a minibus or sinking of a pleasure boat) results in negative publicity in the foreign press.

A new wave of 10-year visas (actually 5×2) was announced this week by the Thai government. The idea is to encourage wealthy individuals of one type and another to make Thailand their home base provided they are owners and investors or well-heeled or retired digital nomads with huge pensions. well beyond the current floor of 800,000 baht. While some specifics are known – holders will need to report their address annually rather than quarterly – much of the detail remains unknown. And this gap includes insurance requirements, if any.

While health insurance is obviously a “good thing”, Thailand’s requirements are messy to say the least. The variables are hugely dependent on the specific visa or clearance, while there is plenty of evidence from social media that individual Thai embassies and immigration offices don’t even sing from a similar hymn sheet. from a distance. Once international tourism takes off in earnest, insurance confusion will be a major hurdle. Fewer initiatives and more coherence are urgently needed.

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