Worker’s Medical Compensation ceiling lifted
On 9 August the Workmen’s Compensation Fund Board officially approved an increase in the medical compensation ceiling for employees who suffer from work-related diseases or injuries.
The previous maximum was just 300,000 baht, while the new ceiling has been raised to one million baht. The increase will come into effect on 1 January 2013.
A senior member of the Board suggested the improvements have not really gone far enough. Khun Prasit Jongassayakul believed it would be better for there to be no limit on the amount of medical coverage offered to employees. Khun Prasit claimed that in many instances of work-related injuries the employee was forced to fi nd money from his or her own pocket after the maximum 300,000 baht ceiling had been reached. This was both financially crippling for many injured workers and morally unfair.
The Workmen’s Compensation Fund Board was established in 1972, interestingly enough at a time when a National Executive Council was ostensibly running Thailand. In reality, it was still in the hands of the military dictator Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn. Nonetheless, Thailand was undergoing internal ructions within the workforce and the creation of a fund such as this was intended to be part of a framework designed to ameliorate overall living conditions.
The Board paid the medical expenses of workers injured on the job, but throughout its forty year history the maximum amount of compensation has always been limited. Khun Prasit suggested workers should be freed from the mental and emotional burden of worrying about how they would continue to receive essential medical treatment once the Compensation Fund Board ceiling had been reached. He stated the fund should pay until such time as an employee is fully recovered and is once again able to resume full-time employment.
As Khun Prasit pointed out, medical expenses can quickly eat up the compensation amount and the fi nancial worry for the injured person could easily delay recovery.
A former Fund director agreed in principle with Khun Prasit’s ideas but pointed out that strict control protocols needed to be implemented to prevent the possibility of excessive or unnecessary spending on medical treatment and services.
Despite the call for an unlimited compensation regime the suggestions remain just that at this point in time. For now, the Fund increase to one million baht maximum will be the new benchmark. Any further increases in this amount or other improvements designed to streamline and provide greater benefi ts and help for injured employees will have to wait until after January 2013.