Thailand to introduce compulsory travel insurance/tourist tax

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buksida
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Thailand to introduce compulsory travel insurance/tourist tax

Post by buksida » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:14 am

The Tourism and Sports Ministry is planning to make it compulsory for all foreign tourists to have travel insurance before entering the Kingdom because unpaid bills are putting a huge strain on cash-strapped public hospitals in major destinations, particularly Phuket.

However, some tourism-business operators warn that this measure might keep away travellers as well as tarnish the country's image.

In a telephone interview with The Nation, Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak said the ministry was readying to implement the regulation to cut down on foreign tourists' unpaid medical bills that cost the country more than Bt200 million annually.

Somsak is discussing the matter with Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong and Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong.

"They agree that foreign tourists should buy an insurance package, which would cost about Bt500," he said.

This would first be applied to tourists who apply for visa at Thai diplomatic missions overseas. The ministry has yet to decide whether this would apply to those who do not need a visa to enter the country.

According to Yuthachai Soonthronrattnavate, president of the Association of Domestic Travel, tourists coming to Thailand on tour packages are already required to buy travel insurance, which allows them to claim Bt1 million for death and up to Bt500,000 for injuries.

Based on the Tourism Ministry's data, up to 6.19 million tourists, or about 28 per cent of the total 22.35 visitors, came to as part of a tour package last year. The Kingdom earned Bt984 billion in revenue from tourist spending in 2012, and expects to earn as much as Bt2.2 trillion from visitors in 2015.

Meanwhile, Phuket - a top travel destination - has had to shoulder about Bt5 million a year in medical costs for foreigners who don't have insurance or are unable to pay for the services, said Dr Bancha Khakhon, chief of the Phuket provincial public health office.

"Whether they can pay or not, it's our obligation to save their lives first," he said.

Most of foreign patients in the province were suffering from motorcycle-related road accidents. Some foreign patients who have health insurance are able to receive emergency treatment at private hospitals but for those who do not have are advised to seek treatment at public hospitals.

On top of the unpaid bills, the Public Health Ministry had to cater a special service for foreign patients: through medical mediators, their problems at public and private hospitals would be resolved within 90 days. In 2012, 59 per cent of foreign patients filed complaints to the ministry, mostly about service quality at clinics.

Bancha supported the Tourism Ministry’s plan, saying this would help public hospitals financially in the long term.

But Yuthachai of the Association of Domestic Travel disagreed with such an initiative and said it should rather be a ''voluntary'' measure, not compulsory.

He expected complaints from foreign tourists if this takes effect. While saying that it is too early to estimate the negative impact on the number of tourist arrivals, he said this will surely create a barrier.

Noting that Thailand would have a problem in enforcing this rule on tourists travelling without tour packages, he said the regulation is sending a negative message to the world that accidents are high in Thailand.

He also noted that Thai travellers do not need travel insurance if taking trips to Singapore, Hong Kong, or Malaysia.

He insisted that most foreign individual travellers can take care of themselves. For the minorities, Thailand’s third-party motor insurance scheme should be enough to foot their bills.

"Before, there was a counter at the airport to sell travel insurance policies to visitors. That is no longer needed as the living quality in Thailand improves while public health services in Thailand has been recognised internationally," he said.

Source: The Nation
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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by dtaai-maai » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:18 am

I think you'd have to be pretty daft to come here on holiday without insurance.
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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by Dr Mike » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:35 am

It is obviously a good idea, travel insurance is not expensive, there should be an added charge if you wish to rent a m'bike.
As for hospitals, that they absorb the cost of caring for uninsured patients is not quite true. The hospitals allow for a certain % of their bills to be uncollected and this expense is absorbed by the paying patients. So people with money and/or insurance are subsidising the uninsured.If the uncollected fees could be reduced it would help the insured as the % allowed fort his would be reduced.
One problem with T.I is that there is rarely a "Direct Billing' arrangement. In other words the patien thas to pay, collects the receipts and is then reimbursed by the Ins company.

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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by hhfarang » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:43 pm

^^ I'm totally daft as I came here probably 20 times without insurance before moving here and I've lived here for nearly ten years without health insurance! :oops: :D
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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by Nereus » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:51 pm

...............there should be an added charge if you wish to rent a m'bike.
I have not been a "tourist" for more than 25 years, but in Australia at least, travel insurance will have a total exclusion on motorbikes, just the same as bungy jumping.
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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by caller » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:32 pm

Pretty much all UK travel insurance excludes motorbikes, for the reason given by the minister, that most incidents result from motorbike accidents.
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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by sandemb » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:43 pm

The benefits of travel insurance are enormous! The cost is fairly minimal, but if something goes wrong, you need it! A dive trip in Indonesia that went seriously wrong proved that for me and 14 others! Evac back to AUS was only option at cost of $40,000 plus, Glad we all had insurance.
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Story was, our boat sank 15 miles from nearest land, injuries from fuel spill, hypothermia after 4 hours in tropical waters before rescue - all on first day of 7 day dive trip!
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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by usual suspect » Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:39 am

How can Thailand introduce this ruling when at any given time over the last few years many Embassies (including the British Embassy) have given out warnings NOT to travel here..thus making any policy null & void..??

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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by Dr Mike » Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:06 am

Usual suspect--- Can I suggest that when you go through immigration at the airport you take you logical thought process and throw it in the nearest garbage container.

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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by buksida » Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:11 am

Call me cynical but I wonder which Shinawatra family owned insurance company will be issuing the premiums and pulling in the profits. :roll:

Time to buy the stock which ever it is.
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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by Pleng » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:29 am

usual suspect wrote:How can Thailand introduce this ruling when at any given time over the last few years many Embassies (including the British Embassy) have given out warnings NOT to travel here..thus making any policy null & void..??
Have they? All I remember seeing from the British embassies over the last few years are to take extra care when travelling and avoid crowd gatherings.

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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by kendo » Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:03 pm

My good friend died after five days, falling off a motorbike and cutting his leg open was trying to sort out a rescue plan but didn't make it.
I travel with two policy's one from a travel company and the other I get through my bank I also don't ride motorbikes in Thailand except around our boonie in Prasat to relive the Boredom.

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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by joecoolfrog » Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:16 pm

dtaai-maai wrote:I think you'd have to be pretty daft to come here on holiday without insurance.
I have a heart condition and related problems which are very manageable ( with medication ) but make it impossible to obtain any realistic form of insurance. You might think it daft that I have travelled for the last 15 years with this handicap but whats the alternative , sit at home and sulk ?

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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by dtaai-maai » Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:42 pm

Me too, joe. I have full medical insurance here through my job at a government university. If I didn't have that, I'd be here regardless. Perhaps I should have added the qualifier "if it is available to you."

Good point, though, that I hadn't considered. Will Thailand refuse entry to all those unable to get medical insurance? Could you still get accident insurance? Would that be enough? If they did introduce such a requirement, would they have staff on hand on arrival qualified to read and understand the policies, or could you just wave any appropriate-looking piece of paper?

The more you think about it, the less feasible it becomes.
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Re: Thailand mulls compulsory travel insurance for tourists

Post by Korkenzieher » Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:09 pm

Seems that way to me too. Political posturing, with no real-world perspective. What about people who only carry minimal (such as critical illness or repatriation) cover? Are immigration officials going to read the 'small-print' on contracts to make sure it covers what they want? In English, Swedish, Italian and so on? Is it going to be necessary to present papers at an Embassy first, even if you only want to get the 30 day on arrival? Utterly unworkable, except by self-certification, and I think we can tell how that will work!
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