Thailand's expat community is reeling after the news of Thai public hospitals given the green light to charge higher rates for foreigners than the locals.
The new split rates kick in from September 29. The unpopular Thai policy of dual pricing will now cover public hospital care. Public hospitals in Thailand will now be able to legally charge foreign nationals higher rates for services under new
regulations published last week.
There will now be four tiers of rates that can be charged for services based on the patient's immigration status in ascending order of price:
foreigners from neighbouring countries
working foreigners on non-immigrant visas
tourists & retirees.
For example, an HIV test costs 160 baht if you're Thai. It goes up to 240 baht for working expats and then to 320 baht for retirees and tourists. Or, a spinal MRI examination will cost Thais 18,700 baht. That jumps to 23,375 baht for working
expats and 28,050 baht for retirees and tourists.
But the costs, allowing greater charges for working foreigners and tourists, will still be a lot less than the charges at most Thai private hospitals.
Thailand has long been an attractive destination for Western expats - where money goes further and can buy a good quality of life. But the revival of an arcane immigration law has angered the expat community and got them questioning their
freedoms in Thailand, as George Styllis reports from Bangkok.
I've been made to feel as if I'm not welcome here , says Zareeka Gardner, a 25-year-old English teacher from the US. Since arriving in Thailand in April, she has racked up immigration fines totalling 12,400 baht (£330). A large part of
that is because her apartment manager failed to promptly file a form saying where she was staying.
Thailand's Immigration Act contains a clause requiring all foreigners to let the authorities know where they're staying at all times.
Previously this job has been done by hotels collecting guests' details, or it was just ignored. But as of March, the government has been applying the law without compromise or exception.
Landlords must notify immigration authorities whenever a foreigner returns home after spending more than 24 hours away from their permanent residence - be it a trip abroad or even leaving the province. The same applies to foreigners married to
Thais - their Thai spouse, if they own the house, must file the report.
The form, known as a TM30, must be submitted within 24 hours of the foreigner's arrival or the property owner will be fined. If the fine isn't paid, the foreigner will be unable to renew their visa or other permits until that's rectified.
Long-term foreign residents of the kingdom have spent the weekend scratching their heads in bewilderment over the baffling requirements of the now notorious TM30 form after a recent forum at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT)
with senior Thai immigration officials present on the panel.
On Thursday evening at the FCCT, foreign expats and guest speakers alike expressed concerns about the lack of clarity and consistency in the application of the TM30 regulation, and the officials said they would do their best to forward the
complaints and queries to Immigration Bureau
From my experience, farmers certainly know the score, and it is standard practise to soak all vegetables in a mild detergent solution. The most worried about vegetables are cucumbers, runner beans and watermelons. Thai farmers are also very keen
on organic farming, not because of concerns about consumers, but because they passionately believe that pesticides kill them and their families.
Pesticide watchdog Thai-PAN has just published its most recent survey, which reveals that 41% of all vegetables in Thailand's fresh markets are contaminated with chemical pesticides to a level that exceeds internationally acceptable standards. 12
types of banned chemicals were also discovered.
Prokchol Ousap, coordinator of Thailand Pesticide Alert Network (Thai-PAN), reported that the organization recently analysed 286 samples of vegetables. She said that the sample sources ranged from fresh markets and shop houses to produce shelves
in city department stores. The samples included 15 types of vegetables and nine types of fruit commonly consumed by the public. They were sent for analysis by ISO-17025 certified laboratories in the United Kingdom.
The result is shocking as they found that 41% of the samples were contaminated with chemical pesticides, said Prokchol.
The worst contamination was found in bok choy, kale, Thai basil, chili, cauliflower, oranges, rose apples, guava and grapes. The lab also found contamination of 33% of imported fruit was over the standard, while 48.7% of locally grown produce
exceeded acceptable contamination standards.
She went on to say that fresh fruit and vegetables on the shelves of large department stores were more contaminated than those sold in local fresh markets, adding that products that are labeled as meeting GAP and GMP standards are safer as only
26% were found to be contaminated.
Now that several foreign embassies have ended their service of providing letters supporting visa applicants income cliams, Thai Immigration has outlined replacement rules for evidencing ncome.
The income requirements remain unchanged in value (40,000 a month for those supporting Thais and 65,000 a month for retirees). Thai Immigration will now accept evidence as follows:
Tax receipts of the supporting relative presumably thos issues by the Thai tax authorities.
Evidence of a pension. Letter of certification from a Thai bank supported by bank statements showing a pension being transferred to the pensioner's bank account every month for at least 12 months. Exceptions are allowed for those who have been
retired for less than one year.
Evidence of income from a foreign embassy or consulate for those whose embassies are still providing the service