I recently struck out on my own and am looking for health insurance for myself. Can you give me some tips on what to look for in terms of coverage?
_ BPANSWERED BY...Teera Phutrakul, CFP, Chairman, TFPA The first step in buying health insurance is to decide what kind of healthcare you will likely need. The choice depends very much on what you can afford. Once you've decided on the level of room rates and choice of hospitals and doctors, then you can proceed to select the right health insurance policy. In Thailand, there are two main types of health insurance: a stand-alone policy from an assurance company; or a term rider from the life insurance companies.
There are three main factors that will determine the level of your premium:
- Your profession. People in less adventurous jobs will, of course, pay less.
- Your age will have a direct bearing on how much your insurance premium is going to be.
- Your gender. Women live longer than men, so their premiums will be higher.
Statistics show 80% of your lifetime medical expenses will come due during the final two years of your life, so health insurance will give you only some of this protection. Most people will have to rely on retirement savings to cover medical expenses as well.
Finally, one hour of exercise a day is the best insurance you can buy. Not only is it free but also it will keep the doctors away and save you a bundle of money in the long run.
I am retiring to Thailand with my Thai wife next year. We currently live in an offshore, tax-free area. My wife has properties in Thailand, and we have no debts.
I am currently heavily into bonds (US-dollar denominated) and Asian emerging market equity funds (again, dollar-denominated). The bonds are performing well, but not so the funds! I am receiving a return of about 6%. Can I achieve a similar return "onshore" in Thailand, in low-risk baht denominated ones to reduce forward currency risk?
_ John Kitchen
ANSWERED BY...Teera Phutrakul, CFP, Chairman, TFPA Asian emerging market bonds have been the flavour of the month among investors for quite some time now. But compared with equities, bonds are no longer cheap, and I think you will be hard-pressed to find a 6%-plus return in baht-dominated bonds with low risk.
You may also want to revise down your expectations to a more realistic level of 3-4% with shorter-maturity bonds of no more than four years. The other word of caution for investing in bonds is that we are living in an upside-down world.
It used to be that developed-country government bonds were risk-free, while corporate bonds carried credit risk to varying degrees. The euro-zone crisis has exposed that assumption to be false. Not only do some government bonds contain credit risk but the Greek debt restructuring is showing that in some ways, corporate bonds are less exposed to arbitrary actions than government bonds.
The latest joke is that government bonds have turned from offering a risk-free return to a return-free risk. I still believe your Asian emerging market equity fund can still generate about a 6% return in the long run.
I cleared my credit card debts six months ago and am now debt-free. The problem is I'm looking for a mortgage. How do I know if I still have bad credit, and if so, how can I repair my bad record?
ANSWERED BY...Teera Phutrakul, CFP, Chairman, TFPA Most banks treat mortgages differently from credit card debt since they have collateral, but an impaired credit status may have an impact on your loan approval. The best thing to do is to check with the National Credit Bureau (NCB) regarding your credit status.
If you are not in the clear but have paid off all your debt already, then you need to contact those banks in order to get your information updated. While you are at the NCB, it also makes sense to consult with the staff there about how they can assist you in repairing your credit.
The Thai Financial Planners Association is the certified financial planner (CFP) trademark licensing authority in Thailand. It is a self-regulated, non-profit group of financial advisers and experts from various organisations set up to give advice to investors. Questions can be submitted to them through email@example.com
About the author
Writer: Thai Financial Planners Association