Expat retirees considering Thailand should note healthcare changes

Expat retirees considering Thailand should note healthcare changes

Expat retirees considering Thailand should note healthcare changes

If you’re still thinking of retiring in Thailand and have ongoing medical issues, a new idea by the Thai government may help you decide!

Expat retirees living in Thailand have had a bad year as regards calls on their financial resources ever since the UK and USA embassies stopped issuing letters confirming their incomes as required by immigration officials when extending long-stay visas. Another hit on long-stay expats came when, for holders of certain visas, compulsory private health insurance was introduced.

It wasn’t just the requirement which caused confusion, it was the fact that the insurance would only be considered valid for the purpose of extending a visa if it had been purchased from a short list of Thailand-based, Thai-owned insurance companies. Existing international private health insurance was disallowed, even although it invariably cost less and covered much larger sums. The issue is ongoing, and many expats are now considering leaving or have left as a result of the new ruling.

It has to be said that private medical care for expats living in the country has always been controversial due to the excessive charges imposed on expats by the private hospital chains. These included prescription drugs as well as medical and surgical services until the government took control and, after investigating the complaints, decided to impose colour-coded systems of green, yellow or red identifying the level of charges. ‘Green’ hospitals, it would seem, will have the least effect on expats’ wallets, whilst ‘Red’ are best avoided as, in some cases, 5,000 services have been identified as being overpriced.

New governmental guidelines will be announced in 2020, with 164 hospitals already set in the Green rating, much to the relief of a good number of elderly expats married to Thai wives and with children of the marriage to care for. The ever-changing rulings and government decisions should be followed carefully by Western would-be expats who’re considering a move to Thailand, as healthcare is one essential which can’t be underestimated for expat retirees.

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