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Update on Insurance and Thai Retirement Visa Extensions

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Insurance in the context of Retirement Visa extensions.  

Now I have received a great deal of correspondence since our last video on Retirement Visa extensions and insurance associated therewith. One message I got here recently: Quoting directly: "One question that is looming large and has yet not been addressed by the Thai Authorities so far as I know, is what will happen to original Non-immigrant O-A Visa holders who have been extending for many years but are too old, now past 75, to purchase the required Thai Health Insurance. Only a few of these companies accept until maximum of 75; none beyond, and the chances of acceptance are even smaller because of too many pre-existing conditions. Do you think they will come up with another option, such as more money in a Thai Bank or something similar or will they just cancel our Retirement Extension possibilities and expect us to leave the country? This is a frightening scenario for us older folks who expected to live out our remaining years here."  I suspect that is probably the case. 

As we have gone over in a previous video, we have spoken with Thai Immigration directly and the overarching principle that they seem to be operating under is that those who were in extension status prior to the policy change will be able to continue to extend their stay under those terms; so under the terms that existed prior to this new requirement. Now that stated, and we have gone over this at length in trying to interpret the regulations, I believe the regulations and this is after even further review since the last video we did on this, I believe the regulations have been created intentionally to allow some leeway on the part of the Adjudicating Officer and that leeway can operate to the benefit or to the detriment of the applicant in question. So depending on who is being adjudicated, it could go in their favour or not. I think overall though, one of the big things is the regs. have left room for those folks who were in and have been in retirement status and are over an age where insurance is no longer possible that those folks, for lack of a better term are grandfathered in or grandfathered out, if you want to look at it like that, of the insurance scheme.  

That being said, I received a message via our YouTube channel, in a comment. "I was under the impression that as I had an A-O, (I think they mean an O-A)  Visa and extension prior to 31st, October I would not need to have medical insurance. Wrong! I had to go to Immigration in Chomtien, Pattaya to show my up-to-date Bank book; still I had the 800,000 in it and I took the opportunity to talk to the Officer in charge of the issue of extensions. She was adamant that whatever long-stay Visa I had, either A-O (and I think they mean O-A) Marriage or Business, I would have to have medical insurance. So as we know from prior videos, the insurance scheme exclusively applies to retirees, for now, and I have done another video on this previously wherein we went into the analysis where I think it is very possible, especially those in marriage status without a work permit, I think it is rather possible down the line we may see Insurance required for those folks. With respect to Business Visas, difficult to say but I think at least for the foreseeable future it is probably not going to be the case. But clearly we are seeing some mixed responses and I think that this mixed response is emanating from the fact that this is subject to interpretation, it is subject to the Immigration Officer’s discretion and if you get some hard-nosed Immigration Officer, medical insurance you may get stuck with it.  At the same time it may be possible to find circumstances where you can deal with an officer especially if you predate the new regs. where it may be possible to go ahead and find someone who allows an extension without the medical insurance. 

Another thing to think about in my opinion is, those who have been here a really long time, so for example someone who has been here 15-20 years in retirement status, never really been a problem, I think that person, for good or ill, whether this is right or wrong, I think that that person probably is going to be viewed qualitatively differently than someone who has been here one and a half or two years. I just think that that is a factor that comes into the analysis on these Adjudicating Officers. 

The thing to take away from this video, at least for now, it is not fully clear if there is a distinction regarding, we have gone into this a lot, regarding O Retirement vs. O-A. My personal opinion is there is no qualitative difference between those two. They all fall under the O category and they all pertain to retirement. We are seeing more and more, it seems to be the trend that medical insurance is going to be required. That being stated it remains to be seen how exactly this will pan out in a specific case, so everybody's case is going to be factually different. Each case is mutually exclusively special and for that reason, it is difficult to generalize exactly how Thai Immigration is going to view retirement visa extensions with respect to insurance in every given factual situation.