There are about 38 million international visitors to Thailand in 2018, more than double in less than 10 years. As a result of Thailand’s massive popularity as a holiday getaway and a place to retire. The enormous number of visitors created more burdens on local hospitals. The Thai Ministry of Public Health revealed that medical fees owed in hospitals nationwide from October 2018-Sep 2019 are as high as 448 million baht or about $15 million USD.
Dr. Sukhonthaphon, director of Vachira Phuket Hospital revealed that the hospital accepts thousands of foreign patients every year. Especially those who have been injured by water sports. Motorcyclists accidents, including being attacked by animals.
The hospital has done everything possible. Including contacting the foreign acquaintances in Thailand, as well as complaints to the embassy to track tourists back to pay medical bills, but often without results.
Not Just Thailand
The Thai media reported that Thailand is no different from many other Asian countries that face the same problem — causing some countries to use rules to regulate tourists to buy travel insurance.
Last July in South Korea now requires foreigners staying in the country for 6 months or more to have health insurance.
New Law For Thailand Retirement Visa
In Thailand, there is a new visa law that requires foreigners applying for a 1-year visa retirement visa to have insurance before they can get the visa. But for short-term tourism, there are still no regulations to buy insurance as of the time of this recording. However, the Thai government is looking to have compulsory travel insurance for foreign visitors at a 20-baht premium each, is expected to debut according to the Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC).
Foreign travellers will be required to pay for compulsory insurance at airports before they are allowed to enter the country. While the premium will be directed to Thailand’s Tourism Promotion Fund for coverage of payments in the event of claims, said secretary-general of Thailand.
While Japan is also trying to push for tourists to buy travel insurance as well. However, according to the Japan Tourism Bureau, about 27% of tourists come to Japan without insurance. Causing many hospitals to start finding ways to protect themselves for problems of overdue medical fees by tourists.