The expat's guide to social security in Thailand
While Thailand is hardly characterized as a welfare state, it does have a decent social security system in place.
If you’re legally employed by a company based in the country, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the social security system. And yes, this also applies to expats and foreigners - though many are unaware of how the system works or how to make full use of it.
I don’t blame them one bit, as not being able to speak Thai can make navigating the system challenging to say the least. But having lived here for many years, I’ve come to wrap my heads around the system and will share my findings in today’s blog post.
Understanding the social security system in Thailand
Let’s start with the basics.
You don’t need to do anything as your company will apply for social security on your behalf. Both you and your employer will then have to contribute a certain percentage of your income to the social security office in exchange for you to receive medical and employment benefits.
You will be required to pay 5% of your income per month, capped at a maximum of THB ฿750, and this will be automatically deducted from your paycheck.
Note that some companies might check with you on your preferred choice of hospital, but it’s also possible that they might simply make the choice for you. If and when you do change your job, your previous and new employer will also handle your social security on your behalf.
This is probably why most foreigners and expats working in Thailand don’t even realize that they’re enrolled in the social security system and are unfamiliar with the process and benefits.
Benefits provided by the social security system
You get a number of medical and employment benefits, which you claim at your local social security office. Here’s a quick summary of some of the medical benefits to give you an idea, but please check with the social security office directly for more up-to-date information:
- Health check-up: You’ll get one free health check-up each year, but it’s not a premium check-up. It’ll only include basic health tests such as cholesterol level, blood pressure, complete blood count (CBC), and blood sugar.
- Medical coverage: You’ll be able to get free treatment for anything that is deemed “medically necessary” by doctors, including those for pre-existing conditions. That being said, the system isn’t foolproof (more on this below).
- Dental coverage: You’ll be able to claim THB ฿900 per year for common dental treatment such as cleaning, fillings, and tooth removal. If you partner with dental clinics partnered with the social security program, they can deduct this amount automatically.
- Maternity coverage: You’ll be able to claim THB ฿15,000 towards delivery costs, as well as THB ฿200 to 500 per prenatal visit up to a maximum of THB ฿1,500. You’ll also get THB ฿7,500 per month for 3 months and THB ฿800 per month until your child turns 6.
Other benefits include disability benefits, unemployment benefits, pension payment, and death compensation.
Enhancing your medical coverage in Thailand
While medical coverage provided by the social security system can be quite handy, it’s far from comprehensive coverage. There’s also two main problems with it - waiting times and treatment quality.
Like most public healthcare systems, visiting hospitals associated with the social security program may mean queuing up for long periods of time just to see a doctor for a few minutes. There might also be limitations on choices of treatment and medications that are covered.
As such, many expats and foreigners in the country prefer to secure additional private health insurance in order to visit private hospitals in Thailand. This way, they can use both the social security program and private hospitals depending on their needs.
Visiting private hospitals means they can benefit from significantly shorter waiting times, experience more comfort and better amenities, as well as state-of-the-art medical equipment and top-notch specialists. The cherry on top is that non-Thai speakers will also be less likely to face a language barrier.
Would you like to learn more about private health insurance for expats in Thailand? You’re in luck as I work for Pacific Prime Thailand, a leading health insurance brokerage, and advise expats on a daily basis. You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact my team.
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If you worked in Thailand do you get a monthly check when you get in your sixties like in the us?
By Old fat ugly white men, Pattaya (22nd September 2022)
I worked in Thailand for over 20 years and do get a very small amount monthly in retirement if I am in country. But I would like to learn about getting an updated Thai SS card, learn about any other possible benefits as well as the health insurance you mentioned.
By Colby, Pattaya (20th June 2022)