Deputy Minister of Public Health Sathit Pitutecha explained that, as of 2018, about 80,000 people held an O-A visa, and that, currently, Thailand has to pay around 500 million baht ($16.4 million) a year in medical bills for foreigners aged over 50. The new policy to be enforced at the end of October 2019 will ensure that visitors of this ‘risky’ age group can afford treatment during a one-year stay and, as such, the government will not have to foot the bill.
The new rule specifies that the insured amount must not be less than 40,000 baht ($1,315) for outpatient and 400,000 baht for inpatient medical fees. Policies can either be purchased from domestic or foreign insurers, but the sum of foreign policies must not be less than the amount stipulated for Thai policies. Sathit noted that the new rules would be applied to those who wish to enter the country for the first time and those who wish to extend their visas.
Sathit expounded that the costs of unpaid medical bills can become extremely burdensome for the Public Health Ministry. “By requiring foreign retirees to have a health insurance, they can be ensured that they will be taken care of when they get ill [or have an] accident,” he said. “This measure will solve over 100 million baht of fees left unpaid by foreign patients.”