Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Anything and everything about Thailand
User avatar
Gaybutton
Posts: 17914
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:21 am
Location: Thailand
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 945 times

Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by Gaybutton »

Thailand’s compulsory insurance rules for foreigners need sorting out

By Barry Kenyon

August 8, 2020

Talk about medical cover for foreigners here isn’t new. In 1992 the government considered the idea as part of the requirements for the first version of the retirement visa which required a “six figure sum” in a Thai bank – at least 100,000 baht – and a minimum age of 60. However, it was decided to settle for a letter from a Thai hospital certifying that the applicant was free of serious disease. But the whole idea was dropped when an unfortunate Brit collapsed with a heart attack on the hospital steps and expired as he clutched his all-clear certificate. Accidents do happen.

In July 2019 it was reported that Thailand was set to introduce a travel premium on all visitors to Thailand to offset the costs of unpaid hospital bills by foreigners. According to press reports at the time, the cost would be as low as 20 baht per person for emergency medical cover of 30 days, to be paid for at special ticket machines located at airports and border posts. The idea so far has not been implemented and skeptics pondered what kind of cover 20p would actually provide. Not to mention two long queues for everyone – one to pay your 20p and another to show your passport to immigration. Being a tourist isn’t all fun.

In October 2019, it was announced that all retiree expats over 50 would be required to have comprehensive medical insurance of at least 400,000 baht (inpatient) and 40,000 baht (outpatient) annual cover. After a flurry, it turned out that only about five percent of retirees were included in the net, those who had obtained an initial “O/A” visa at a Thai embassy abroad. The vast majority, who obtained an initial “O” visa either at an embassy or at a Thai immigration office could rest easy. And that remains the position today.

Speculation continues as to whether the health insurance rule will be extended to all retiree expats. Many argue that it would be a good thing: bankrupt foreigners draining Thai medical resources or relying on crowd-funding as they lie dying. On the other hand, 400,000 baht won’t cover many significant medical procedures these days, notably in the private medical sector. Powerful exclusion clauses exist in any policy too. And what about the wealthy elderly with pots of money who are too old and/or infirm to be eligible? Best be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water. Those guys have plenty of cash up front.

But in early 2020 Covid-19 appeared here and provoked a ban on all foreigners from entering the country. This blanket ruling has now been lifted slightly for a few special categories, but they must all obtain a certificate of entry from their local Thai embassy before being allowed to board a plane. One of the many documents required is a comprehensive medical insurance policy worth at least US$100,000. These are indeed available from several Thai-based insurance companies with the cost on a sliding scale relative to age. If you are in the 70-75 age range, expect to pay around 135,000 baht. If you are 76 years or over, sorry no deal. In effect, the advanced elderly are automatically banned from entry.

It’s worth noting in that context that some kinds of health insurance are available in Thailand for the advanced elderly. Several companies offer coronavirus cover of up to one million baht (death) and 100,000 baht (hospital treatment) for anyone aged 0-99 years. And that is likely to include you as long as you have resided in Thailand for at least six months. Of course, you must read the small print because glossy brochures can be seductive. Another opportunity is provided by the Thai banks which sometimes offer accident insurance of up to 600,000 baht cover for around 8,000 baht for seniors up to 99 years. Again the small print is what matters. Fail to read it at your peril.

So the situation in Thailand as regards state-required health insurance is complicated. The pesky virus has thrown the whole of the international insurance world into introspection, so no easy answers. Yet Thailand has a huge stake in the tourist dollar and the authorities need to start considering the frontline questions. Do they really intend to exclude anyone over 75 from entering Thailand forever? Is there a way of allowing people – young and old – who self-insure to secure long-term visas? Can significant cover of any kind, even for a 30 days tourist, be feasible for a paltry sum like 20 baht or is this a fund raising exercise? Once the emergency created by coronavirus subsides, maybe next year, such questions will need answers. One lives in hope.

https://www.pattayamail.com/featured/th ... out-310387

Daleinpattaya
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:59 am
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 3 times

Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by Daleinpattaya »

A friend just expressed the hope that folks in government are reading Barry’s columns... my response was that is just like wondering if Trump has read his niece Mary’s recent book.

User avatar
Gaybutton
Posts: 17914
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:21 am
Location: Thailand
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 945 times

Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by Gaybutton »

No end in sight for flights ban

13 Aug 2020

The ban on international commercial flights will remain in force while the Covid-19 pandemic situation remains critical in many countries, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) said on Wednesday.

It is an indefinite ban, said CAAT director Chula Sukmanop and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) would monitor the global situation before deciding when the flights could resume.

Mr Chula said the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) had told the government that a large number of foreigners intended coming to Thailand on business, so officials were checking if there were enough state quarantine (ASQ) facilities available.

More private accommodation providers were applying to become ASQ-certified, he said, restating that those arriving would have to pay their quarantine expenses themselves.

They would also be required to notify Thai officials in advance where they would be staying while in the country and complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

A number of foreign people seeking medical treatment in Thailand under a special entry programme are required to stay at a contracted hospital for at least 14 days to ensure they don't bring in and spread the virus, he said, adding: "As of now, no commercial airlines are permitted to operate flights into and out of Thailand and only a number of foreign businesspeople are allowed to enter the country for business purposes."

These people, along with Thai nationals looking to return to the country on repatriation flights, had booked to come to Thailand, said Mr Chula.

The maximum number of incoming passengers is limited to 500 per day in line with Covid-19 precautionary measures.

No ordinary tourists are allowed entry at the moment, while no travel bubble programmes with other countries are agreed just yet, he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Cherdkiat Atthakor, meanwhile, said 102 Thai nationals on a repatriation flight from Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent were due to arrive home this morning, having left Uzbekistan on Wednesday on Uzbekistan Airways Flight HY3609.

All these passengers tested negative for the new coronavirus before they were allowed to board the repatriation flight, he said.

Of those 102 people, 94 are Thai workers who went to work in Uzbekistan under a labour cooperation programme, seven are spa workers and the other one has been living in Uzbekistan.

The employers of all the workers, except for two of the spa employees, have agreed to pay for their repatriation costs.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/ge ... lights-ban

User avatar
Gaybutton
Posts: 17914
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:21 am
Location: Thailand
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 945 times

Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by Gaybutton »

Foreigners flying into Thailand during the virus pandemic: the common myths

By Barry Kenyon

August 13, 2020

With the general ban on foreign tourism to Thailand, the internet is full of fake news and conspiracy theories sometimes designed to milk the cash of the unwary. Here are some circulating in UK, mainland Europe and US.

If you can buy an airticket you can fly into Thailand

Not so. The possession of an airticket does not guarantee you can even board a plane, yet alone actually get past immigration here. Each and every foreigner wanting to come must seek the approval of their local Thai embassy which has the power to issue an all-important certificate of entry without which you are doomed. If you visit the website of your local Thai diplomatic post you will see the documentary hill to be climbed. There are no scheduled flights into Bangkok, but only repatriation journeys for Thai citizens and approved foreigners.


You can fly to a third country and cross into Thailand by a land border

Enterprising suggestion, but no way. Even assuming you can fly to a country not too far from Thailand, all border crossings into the country are closed except to goods traffic and – at some posts – documented labourers from Laos, Cambodia and Mynamar. Unless you can prove you have permission to mix the concrete at the construction of a Thai condo or are legally casting the nets on a Thai fishing boat, forget that one. Swimming across a river in the middle of the night also not recommended, particularly if carrying a suitcase.


I own a condominium in Pattaya and usually live there. Therefore, I am a resident

In your eyes for sure, but not in Thai law. Ownership of property such as a condominium – and don’t forget foreigners don’t own land here – does not in itself bestow residency rights. In the Thai language “residency” in effect means “permanent residency” as an expression. Permanent residency is a long process in Thailand and requires you to have a recent history of working legally and successfully, to be able to communicate in Thai and likely to have proved your worth to the Thai economy or to Thai culture. You can always tell a permanent resident – his or her passport does not have an immigration stamp indicating an end date by which the holder must leave the country or seek an extension.


I’m an Elite card holder so I have precedence over the others

It is true that the Thai government did include this category of foreigner to be able to apply to their local Thai embassy to return or to visit. Essentially, it is a long-term visa of between 5 and 20 years in exchange for a non-returnable cash fee of between 500,000 baht and in excess of one million. However, the wheels of Thai bureaucracy turn slowly and, to date, Thai embassies don’t seem to have caught up. The website of the Thai embassy in London, to date, does not list Elite card holders as eligible for the certificate of entry. So everyone is waiting for clarification on this one.


To return, you need comprehensive medical insurance worth at least US$100,000 which is impossible to obtain in Thailand

Wrong on this one too. There are several Thai insurance companies offering insurance which fits the entry requirements. These can be applied for online. The fees are on a sliding scale according to age. However, if you are over 75 years, you may indeed find it impossible to be covered. One or two US-based insurance companies offer medical benefits up to age 120 (with free annual premiums once you are a centenarian) but whether such a policy would satisfy the officials at a Thai embassy is up to them. Not likely. What is true is that advanced age foreigners are currently banned from entry to Thailand whatever their status or reasons. That’s tough.

https://www.pattayamail.com/news/foreig ... ths-310969

User avatar
Gaybutton
Posts: 17914
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:21 am
Location: Thailand
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 945 times

Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by Gaybutton »

Elite card holders hoping to come back to Thailand quickly must wait a while

By Barry Kenyon

August 14, 2020

There was a surge in applications overseas for the Thailand Privilege Card Company’s Elite visa after the government announced two weeks ago that possession would prioritize holders to obtain approval from the Thai embassy in their home country to board a plane to Bangkok. Some other special groups, such as documented business men and women, foreigners with Thai dependents, students and wealthy medical tourists have already been selected.

But many would be-joiners were surprised that the Elite news had evidently failed to reach Thai embassies abroad which are still mostly silent on this specific issue. However the Thailand Privilege Card (TPC) has now explained that the approval from the Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) is in principle only at this stage. In other words, a first step.

TPC president Somchai Soongswang clarified that his company would be attending meetings with other organizations including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health to finalize the details before implementation. A news release also explained that, in the first phase, there would be quotas and conditions. No further detail is available for the time being, but it was promised “in the very near future”.

The news has come as a blow to some applicants, especially in Europe and the USA, who had assumed they need only to apply on-line and pay the money to be assured of a nod of approval from their local Thai embassy. The Elite card has many options, both individual and family, but basically offers a multiple entry visa for a period of 5 to 20 years in exchange for a non-returnable cash fee of between 500,000 and 2,000,000 baht. It also guarantees discounts on participating hotels, restaurants and sports venues as well as free medical checkups and a limousine airport service.

A TPC source said in a phone interview that, once the details had been inked in, existing Elite visa card holders and those whose applications had been vetted and accepted in Bangkok would obtain a letter from TPC which would form part of their documentary file to show to their local Thai embassy. Other compulsory papers would likely be a fit-to-fly certificate, coronavirus clearance and comprehensive medical insurance to the tune of US$100,000. The Thai government also currently requires a 14-day quarantine at nominated hotels which must be paid for by the traveller.

Whilst some observers claim that the Elite card is expensive and does not avoid visits to the Thai immigration bureau – for example 90-day reports are mandatory – others point out that bureaucratic hassle is actually less and that the perks can be substantial, especially the avoidance of queuing at airports once normal service is eventually restored.

Jessataporn Sriboo, a Pattaya based lawyer and Elite agent, said, “The total number of Elite card holders now exceeds 10,000 with many applications in the pipeline.” He explained that applications can be made online from anywhere in the world as well as here in Thailand. “We are seeing foreigners with one year extensions of stay for marriage and retirement switching to the five year Elite alternative as its merits are becoming better known.”

The TPC website clarifies that the multiple-entry Elite visa is suitable for business people making short trips to Thailand and for retirees or foreigners with Thai wives and children to support. However, it does not permit working as defined by the country’s alien labour legislation, although those needing a work permit can be fast-tracked through the Ministry of Labour and the immigration bureau. Still, Elite card holders and applicants will need to wait a while before enjoying a flight to the Land of Smiles.

https://www.pattayamail.com/featured/el ... ile-311161

User avatar
Gaybutton
Posts: 17914
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:21 am
Location: Thailand
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 945 times

Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by Gaybutton »

One of the proposed plans calls for limiting incoming tourists to 500 per day. Great idea! And as it stands now, the mandatory 14-day quarantine is still in effect. Since it would be unlikely that all 500 people would be arriving on the same flight, how would they control the passenger numbers? I wouldn't want to be passenger number 501.

Quarantine 500 people where? And the next day 500 more. That potentially could mean 3500 people quarantined per week. What happens if after the quarantine period, all 3500 of them test positive for Covid-19?

Yes, folks - yet another well thought through plan . . .

User avatar
bkkguy
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:20 pm
Location: Bangkok
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by bkkguy »

Gaybutton wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:02 am
Since it would be unlikely that all 500 people would be arriving on the same flight, how would they control the passenger numbers?
no, they wouldn't be on the same flight, in fact it is even worse than that - that 500 has to be shared between all the airlines that want to fly in on any day

Sydney currently has an arrivals limit of 500 per day and many Australian expats wanting to return to Australia have been complaining that airlines, particularly Qatar, are ripping them off by bumping passengers booked in economy to a later, possibly never, flights while advertising business class seats available on that same flight. Qatar's response was basically their allocated quota is 30 passengers per flight, and it is just not possible to justify the flight with most of the passengers paying economy fares!

perhaps that is why the latest Phuket fantasy plan specifies fly in on Thai Airways and transfer immediately on a Thai flight to Phuket

and quarantine the people where? the latest Phuket fantasy plan suggests three or four large hotels or resorts on the island that share a stretch of beach form a bubble so quarantined guests can still frolic in the surf - not scary at all!

and what if they all test positive during quarantine? to be fair the latest Phuket fantasy plan suggests tourists get tested at home before flying, get tested in both Bangkok and Phuket on arrival and once or twice during quarantine, and historically it would be unlikely for all to test positive in quarantine - based on current arrival into quarantine statistics less than 10% do, but 10% is still a significant number if you are a tourism authority trying to justify removing the quarantine requirement!

and most frustratingly, even at great cost and inconvenience to the tourists, the latest fantasy Phuket plan does nothing to address the desperate situation for the tourist industry on the rest of the island of Phuket and in the rest of the country, particularly Pattaya which is so dear to the heart of most of the readers here!

but yes I agree - yet another well thought through plan . . .
I’m nervous now when people cough near me, I would be much more comfortable if they would far cough.

User avatar
Gaybutton
Posts: 17914
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:21 am
Location: Thailand
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 945 times

Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by Gaybutton »

bkkguy wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:24 pm
and quarantine the people where? the latest Phuket fantasy plan suggests three or four large hotels or resorts on the island that share a stretch of beach form a bubble so quarantined guests can still frolic in the surf - not scary at all!
And how would they manage to keep groups of passengers arriving on different days separate from each other if they're staying at the same hotel, using the same beach, eating at the same hotel restaurant, etc? Wouldn't they have to do that to keep different groups arriving on different flights from potentially infecting each other?

Here's a scene I can picture. You arrive on a flight today. 10 days later, before your quarantine time expires, now a group from another incoming flight is housed at the same hotel where you've been quarantined. Then it turns out that during their quarantine some of them are discovered to be infected. Since you're staying in the same hotel, would that mean your quarantine would have to be extended for an additional 14 days? Better still, if you have already been released, but people who were infected were in the hotel at the same time you were, would that mean you and everyone else who was on your flight would have to be rounded up and re-quarantined? And if that happens, quarantined where and at whose expense?

On top of that, who's to say the same thing couldn't happen to you a third time, fourth time, and so on?

Somehow that doesn't seem like a great way to spend a holiday . . .

I just don't see how a scheme like this can work. Too many ways it could go wrong. I certainly understand why Thailand wants a quick return of international tourism, but in my opinion this method is hardly the way to go about it. And if anyone does end up quarantined more than once, what will that do to tourism?

If Thailand is going to permit international tourists, they better come up with a much better plan than this one.

gera
Posts: 310
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:46 pm
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 22 times

Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by gera »

Guys, i do understand your frustration. If I were in Pattaya right now I would dread the idea of foreign tourists coming and bringing virus. However, please, understand, this is inevitable. Yes, it is not safe but at least in Thailand they seem to manage to keep it at bay. While the situation in US is drastically different and much much worse the process of opening up is not questioned by anybody at the moment. Because the virus dictates very brutal trade off between the economy and safety. Thailand no different. With the arrival of high season you will see the restart of international commercial flights and influx of foreign tourists. As long as they implement quarantine (and no, GB, there is no cross infection during the quarantine: people are supposed to stay in their own room at least during first several days: 7 days in Phuket), the idea of bringing long term tourists is viable and will be implemented.

gerefan
Posts: 571
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:33 am
Has thanked: 12 times
Been thanked: 53 times

Re: Traveling to Thailand - Mission Impossible

Post by gerefan »

gera wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 11:06 pm
the idea of bringing long term tourists is viable and will be implemented.
Then they need to announce that very soon as it will take months for long term tourists to jump through all the hoops before high season starts.

I usually have 90 days in high season but am not buying any tickets or spending any money until the requirements are clearly laid down.

Post Reply