The reality of forcing expats in Thailand to buy expensive private healthcare insurance

Published:  28 Dec at 6 PM
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As the possibility of all expats in Thailand being forced to buy private health insurance or have their visas cancelled sinks in, one local online English language newspaper publishes its survey results.

The long-stay expat community in Thailand is split between those working in Bangkok companies, those running their own small businesses in Thailand’s major cities and those who chose Thailand as the perfect retirement destination. Although there are no demographics showing the comparative numbers in each location, it’s fair to assume that the majority of expats in beach towns such as Hua Hin and Pattaya as well as Chiang Mai in the north are retirees with varying degrees of financial security.

One online Hua Hin expat newspaper has taken the bull by the horns on this controversial subject, running a small unofficial survey amongst its expat readers. The result is interesting, in that 60 per cent of those surveyed state they would leave Thailand and find another, more welcoming country in which to spend their pensions and capital. Ten per cent said they would use visa runs where necessary, although this isn’t a favoured option due to frequent changes in immigration laws. The remaining 30 per cent said they would buy insurance if they could, but many were over the age of 70, at which point private health insurance becomes extremely expensive and almost impossible to get.

Several respondents added their comments, with one 72-year-old saying it’s not possible to get insurance at that age. The paper checked, saying it’s possible but horribly expensive. Another said he was coming up to his 70th birthday and has no idea what to do, and another said he’d been planning to retire in Thailand but the premiums are so excessive he’ll wait until the matter is decided before he makes a final decision. Another has home country-based private health insurance covering hospital stays but wonders if immigration officials will accept it.

The majority of expat retirees in Thailand bought villas, apartments or condos when they first arrived and have friends and families within both the expat and Thai communities. Many have married Thai women and have children, all of whom are living on the private and/or state pensions of their Western husbands who also afford private education for their children and help support their wives’ families. To be forced to purchase overpriced private health insurance up until their 70th birthdays and then be forced to leave the country as their visas have been cancelled is a real threat, both to the expat community and those they support.

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