After publishing my latest post on The Pinoy Legacy about the importance of Thai social security or prakan sangkom and on how it helped me when I got sick, comments and private messages started to flood my inbox. People are asking me how to avail, the amount deducted from my salary every month, the coverage, etc.
So, to better answer all the questions, I decided to put into writing my personal account on how I got “prakan sangkom” and the benefits I have received.
A few years ago I met a couple of Filipino teachers in one of the biggest government schools in Phitsanulok. They mentioned that a visit to the hospital for a full body checkup once a year cost them nothing. I was like, “heto na naman sila oh“. I didn’t believe every single word they said. Perhaps because I haven’t hit 30 yet, so health insurance wasn’t yet high on my list of priorities. And of course, because “pabida” can be found everywhere. Mas marami nga lang ngayon.
Then, a year after that, I got married and my wife got pregnant. If my memory serves me right she was around 7 months pregnant when her Asst. Director asked her if she had prakan sangkom. When she said no, the Asst. Dir. told her to come with him. My wife called me and asked me to go and follow them.
We were welcomed by a very nice lady at the labor office. Yung anyaya na iyon e papunta na pala ng labor office agad. After exchanging pleasantries and explaining the purpose of the visit, she made a copy of my wife’s passport, work permit, bank book, and asked the Asst. Dir. for his signature on the form. She told the Asst. Dir. that they will talk again for some other documents on a later date. She also told my wife that 750 baht will be deducted from her salary every last day of the month. “The school,” she added, “will cover the other 750.”
Unfortunately, because my wife hasn’t made 7 months contribution within the last 15 months, we were told that her delivery won’t be covered by the insurance. She said that the baby will receive 400 (now 600) baht monthly from the government until the age of 6, though.
I admit that I didn’t like what I heard initially. Nanghinayang ako e. Also, 750 can go a long way. But I let it go because they said it would be helpful in the future.
Minutes later I called the HR officer responsible for visa and working permit documents at my university and told her that I would also like to avail the prakan sangkom. I couldn’t remember why I called her. Siguro because my wife had one so baka better if I also have it.
“No, we don’t give it to foreigners,” she said and told me so many things I didn’t even understand. I relayed the information to the lady working in the labor office that my university won’t give me insurance. She told me that she wanted to speak to our HR and asked me to call her again.
Their exchanges were so fast. I wasn’t able to follow. The lady at the labor office handed me back my phone and told me not to worry. Her words were unclear. “What should I not worry about? Was my request granted or not?”, I asked myself.
I didn’t push it. I let it go. I was back teaching at my university the next day. Just before noon on that day however, I received a phone call from our HR. She told me to meet her in an hour for some important information. I met her in her office and told me straight away that the university council agreed that all foreigners should get insurance. She asked me to make a copy of my passport, work permit, and to sign a form coming from the social security office. That was the first month 750 was deducted from my salary.
Then, a few years later, the unthinkable happened. My younger self got sick. Two huge masses were staying comfortably in my lungs – making it difficult for me to breathe. An annoying cough that lasted for weeks was also present. I was visiting a private hospital at that time because I was looking for much faster service. However, after X-rays and prescribed medications for months, the bills came as a big blow lalo na at wala ka pang masyadong ipon.
The doctor, seeing my disappointment for the bills I have to pay, was also worried because he wanted me to undergo a CT scan, which, of course, an additional burden on my part. He asked me if I have insurance to which I said yes. “I suggest you have a CT scan at the hospital indicated on your card because you’ll pay a lot more if it’s done here”, he said.
I did exactly what he said. I used my prakan sangkom in the hospital registered on my card. After a series of X-rays and a CT scan, my new doctor found out what was bugging me. He prescribed several medicines in different boxes, too. Fortunately, everything was free. Nothing was taken out of my pocket. The prakan sangkom which the lady from the labor office told me that will come in handy was indeed helpful. If I didn’t have insurance, my hospital bills could have skyrocketed.
Another situation when our prakan sangkom did its wonders was when my second child was born. Prenatal check-ups weren’t covered, only delivery. We could have paid less or maybe nothing at all if we chose to have our baby delivered at the hospital indicated on our cards. But my wife preferred a private hospital for faster service.
If your child was born in the hospital not indicated on your card, you will have to pay the amount first. We were quoted 50k baht for a CS section and paid the amount from our pocket. But days later we went to the labor office to claim maternity benefits for my wife. I can’t remember exactly how much we got back, but it was around 33k to 35k with a 7-10 days time frame. So technically lumiit ang amount na binayaran namin dahil may refund kaming nakuha. Our little one is also getting 400 baht every month from the fund.
Since getting sick is something we cannot avoid, it is really a must to have insurance or “prakan sangkom.” Speak to your employer on how to avail. Huwag manghinayang sa 750 baht na ikakaltas sa sahod kung katumbas naman nito ay panatag na pagiisip sa oras na di inaasahan.
PS: Here’s the list of the current benefits of prakan sangkom.