Concerning the refusal to sell health insurance to child dependent of migrant workers
On 11 March 2021, the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) has submitted a letter to the Phuket Provincial Public Health Doctor, Director of Vachira Phuket Hospital, Governor of Phuket, Minister of Public Health and Minister of Interior calling on the concerned public health authorities to develop a guideline to ensure all child dependents of migrant workers are able to buy health insurance by invoking their relationships with either of their parents who have already purchased the health insurance or are already an insured person. Similar to how such children can access social security benefits, they can choose to invoke their relationships with either of their parents who are insured persons. The guideline should be put into practice by all medical facilities.
The Phuket Public Health Authority has sent us a reply basing the refusal to sell health insurance to the child dependent on the two following reasons.
(1) The Phuket Public Health Authority places the most importance on the maternal relationships. In this case, the father should have proven by documents his marital relationships with the mother. This principle is adhered to, to serve the interest of the child and the mother in terms of health surveillance.
(2) During the birth registration of migrant workers, the hospital has encountered cases of individuals who have falsely claimed their fatherhoods of the newborns, probably since it may benefit the persons while applying for Thai nationality or to avoid any legal consequence for such workers. Upon discovering of such case, we vow to ensure they face the full force of the law.
Nevertheless, regarding the Vachira Phuket Hospital’s refusal to sell health insurance to the migrant workers, the complainants do not agree with the reasons stated in the reply from the authority in Phuket. A birth certificate issued by the authorities clearly establishes the relationships of the parents and the child. The Phuket Public Health Authority should not just refuse to accept such legal document issued by other authorities. Such birth registration is done with documents and to competent officials. In other word, by issuing the document, the officials from the Ministry of Interior already acknowledge the fatherhood of the persons. In addition, the hospital claims to have encountered cases of individuals who have falsely claimed their fatherhoods in order to facilitate their application for Thai nationality or to avoid the level consequence for such workers. The reason about nationality is irrelevant since both parents in this case are Myanmar nationals, and even though their child is born in Thailand, the child will not be entitled to Thai nationality or other nationality as far as the Nationality Act B.E. 2508 is concerned.
Such aforementioned claims are irrelevant to the problems raised by the complainants. Attorneys of the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), authorized to inquire about this matter, cannot accept the reasons invoked by the officials to justify the refusal of the sale of health insurance card to the child of migrant workers. The affected migrant workers will submit another letter to the Public Health Authority to demand a review of such decision and to ask for a reply based on legal reasons and their mandate. In order to serve the best interest of the child, it is important that the child has the right to basic health services.