Thailand’s Tourism Ministry Secretary said today that Thailand plans to add a mandatory health insurance fee for all foreign visitors.
While an exact timeline and price hasn’t yet been revealed, the official said that the plan is for this to be rolled out within about six months, and that the fee could be around 100 Thai Baht (a little over 3USD).
This fee would be in addition to the visa fees that Thailand charges visitors from many countries. It’s not clear whether visitors covered by their own insurance policy would still have to buy this one.
Thailand has about 38 million foreign visitors a year, so this would raise about 3.8 billion Baht, or about 120 million USD, per year.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time that such a concept has been proposed, and they’ve been shot down in the past. Perhaps it will be different this time.
The reason for this proposal? Thailand’s government has been spending as much as 300 million Baht per year on healthcare and even corpse transportation for foreign visitors — eek. Frankly that’s lower than I would have expected.
This proposal would get them more than ten times the amount they’re currently spending on healthcare, for foreigners, but they’d also be getting insurance for everyone, so…
As Thailand’s Tourism Minister explains:
“After this law is enacted, the Thai government can buy insurance to cover foreign tourists without interfering with Thai nationals’ tax money. Each year, the state has to bear the cost of emergency vehicles, medical treatment and transport of bodily remains.
Whenever we try to bill someone, no one would pay.”
This proposal seems entirely reasonable, and paying an extra ~3USD per visit shouldn’t significantly impact tourism. I’m trying to find the polite way to say this, but Thailand certainly does attract quite a few “adventurous” tourists, and there are even TV shows about foreigners doing stupid things in Thailand and ending up in hospitals. So given the type of tourists they’re attracting, this seems logical to me.
If they do implement this, I at least hope they make the logistics of this easy. Immigration queues at Bangkok Airport can be really long, so I hope they don’t make people line up at yet another separate counter to buy this, before even going to the regular immigration counter.
What do you make of Thailand implementing a mandatory healthcare fee for tourists?