Thailand SSO vs. Private Health Insurance: Which One Is Better?

Thailand SSO vs. Private Health Insurance Which One Is Better

If you are working in Thailand, chances are you are already in the Thailand Social Security system.

Then, there’s a big decision you have to make: “Should I buy additional private insurance, or should I just rely solely on Social Security?”

To help you make an informed decision, this guide compares all the key factors, including coverage, treatment quality, price, wait time, and more. It’s based on my personal experience using both Social Security and private insurance for many years.

Key Takeaways

  • Social Security is much cheaper than private insurance, costing a maximum of 750 baht per month.
  • With Social Security, all health conditions, including pre-existing conditions, are covered.
  • When it comes to treatment quality, waiting time, and convenience, private insurance is much better.

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Price

Winner: Social Security

At most, you pay only 750 baht per month with Social Security. In the case of Social Security section 39, it’s only 432 baht per month.

While the health insurance premium depends on various factors including age, coverage, deductible, co-insurance, and more, you should expect to pay at least 2,000 baht a month for it.

In the case that you are over 60 years old, it can easily be over 8,000 baht per month.

Coverage

Winner: Draw

One of the best things about Social Security is that it covers all sicknesses, including pre-existing conditions, which can’t be found in any private insurance plan.

You can simply walk into your social security hospital, see a doctor, and get treatment without having to pay anything for both hospitalization and outpatient treatment.

There is no co-insurance or a deductible.

Nawamin 9 hospital SSO registration desk
Treatment quality at a hospital that accepts Social Security can be a hit or miss.

However, in the case of hospitalization, you need to pay extra if you want to stay in a private room. If you want better medications, you may also need to pay out-of-pocket as well.

Social security also has limited coverage on maternity and check-ups.

On the other hand, while your pre-existing condition isn’t covered by health insurance, you get better coverage in almost everything else, including medications and hospitalization.

Depending on your plan, there is additional coverage including medical evacuation, vision, health check-ups, dental, and much more. Some plans also give you an additional allowance when hospitalized.

Area of Coverage

Winner: Private Insurance

Private insurance is a clear winner when it comes to the area of coverage. Depending on your plan, you can get covered throughout Thailand or even around the world.

On the other hand, you can only use Social Security in Thailand.

Treatment Quality

Winner: Private Insurance

Private insurance is also a clear winner in this regard. The treatment quality you receive in Thailand heavily depends on which hospital you visit.

In the case of a leading private hospital or a big public hospital, the treatment quality is usually better than in a normal hospital.

With private insurance, you can visit any hospital of your choice and have your insurance pay for it or make a claim later as long as it’s within your plan coverage.

Bumrungrad hospital lobby
With private hospital, you can visit any hospital of your choice, including Bumrungrad Hospital.

When it comes to Social Security, you are limited to the hospitals you can go to.

In addition, here are additional factors that can play an important part in treatment quality:

  • Doctor’s Expertise: With Social Security, you will need to visit a GP first. Most of them are those who recently graduated from medical school. With private insurance, you can see an experienced specialist right away.
  • Medication: With Social Security, your medications are from Thailand, China, and India. With private insurance, they’re mainly from either Thailand, Europe, or North America.
  • Facility: Many hospitals have a separate department for Social Security patients. The facilities there are not as good as for normal patients.
  • Consultation Length: Since Social Security doctors need to deal with hundreds of patients a day, they only have a few minutes to diagnose you.

It can simply be said that even if it’s the same hospital, especially for private hospitals, the quality of treatment for a Social Security patient isn’t as long as for a normal patient.

Wait Time

Winner: Private Insurance

When using Social Security in Thailand, you need to wait at least a few hours to see a doctor. In case you need to see a specialist, depending on how urgent it is, it can take a week just to make an appointment.

I once had an ear problem. My Social Security hospital told me that I needed to wait a week to see a specialist. So, at that time, I decided to cancel the appointment and just visit an ENT clinic to get treatment right away.

On the other hand, with private insurance, the waiting time is almost nonexistent. You get treatment right away.

Pro tip: If you want to have less waiting time, visit your Social Security hospital in the evening. The queue will be much shorter at that time.

Convenience

Winner: Private Insurance

Since you can go to any hospital or clinic with private insurance, it’s much more convenient than Social Security.

With Social Security, you are limited to your chosen hospital only. In addition, you can only change hospitals once a year.

You are allowed to go to other hospitals only in emergency situations. If this is the case, there are limits on how much Social Security will pay you.

check your own vitals in SSO hospital Thailand
You now need to check your own vitals at some Social Security hospitals.

Denial of Coverage

Winner: Social Security

While the quality of treatment you get from Social Security might not be as good as that from private insurance, Social Security never denies your coverage.

Even if you suddenly have any serious conditions such as cardiac disease or cancer, you can still contribute to Social Security and get treatment.

On the other hand, some bad insurance companies may kick you out of the plan when you are diagnosed with these diseases. So, if you want to buy private insurance, choose only a reputable company.

Should I Get Social Security or Private Health Insurance?

In conclusion, here are some key points to help you decide whether you want to use Social Security or Private Health Insurance.

  • If you have been working in Thailand until your retirement and plan to live here for the rest of your life, it’s better to keep Social Security. At that time, private insurance might be too expensive.
  • If you are working in Thailand and have a limited budget, you can visit your Social Security hospital first and experience the system yourself. This will help you decide whether or not you want to get private insurance.
  • If you plan to live in Thailand temporarily or want to get access to quality treatment right away, you can just go with private insurance and ignore Social Security benefits.

Now, on to You

I hope that this article has helped you make a decision more easily on whether or not you want to buy private insurance if you already have Social Security in Thailand.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

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Saran Lhawpongwad is a Bangkokian by birth. He loves to share what he learns based on his insights living and running business in Thailand. While not at his desk, he likes to be outdoors exploring the world with his family. You can connect with him on his LinkedIn.

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