Officials at Thailand's Ministry of Tourism and Sports proposed a new rule last summer that would require visitors to have travel medical insurance before entering, noting that uninsured tourists are currently racking up an $88 million annual bill in unpaid hospital visits. While the status of this proposal is still up in the air, Thailand is not the only country that wants foreigners to come with their own coverage.
Here’s a roundup of six more countries that already require visitors to carry insurance.
While it has recently become easier for Americans to visit Cuba, the government mandates that you purchase travel medical insurance before visiting. Most airlines, like JetBlue, are bundling the government-imposed surcharge of $25 right into their ticket prices, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing it separately.
United Arab Emirates
Most U.S. citizens visiting the UAE for leisure travel don’t need a visa before entering the country. You can simply get one at the airport when you arrive. For this type of traveler, proof of travel medical insurance is not required. If you want to stay longer than one month, however, you’ll need to apply for a visa before you enter the country, and you’ll need travel medical insurance. Officially, the UAE won’t process your entry visa application unless you submit proof that you have it. There’s no set price, but you can usually expect to pay between 4 and 10 percent of your total trip price for comprehensive coverage from major travel insurance providers.
Russia requires proof of travel medical insurance for citizens of nations that require the same thing for Russians who visit, and the U.S. doesn’t require this of Russian visitors. So technically, you don’t need insurance, but getting it anyway is a good idea. You’re better off being covered in case you get an agent who isn’t familiar with the specifics of the law. In Russia, you can provide any travel medical insurance you please. Most travel-centric credit cards have insurance built right in, or companies such as AIG generally sell plans starting at around $20.
Medical insurance isn’t required if you’re taking a short vacation to Italy, France, or other countries in the Schengen zone, which comprises much of Europe. But if you’re applying for one of the many longer-term visas that allow visitors to work and study within this area, you’re required to provide proof of travel health insurance. You’ll need a letter from your insurance company that clarifies your coverage will apply “for any medical, evacuation and repatriation expenses during your whole stay,” with coverage of at least 30,000 euros.