The Social Security Office (SSO) in Phuket has yet to respond to questions by The Phuket News. However, a medical officer with the respiratory disease department at Vachira Phuket Hospital, who asked not to be named, was willing to clarify the situation.
First and foremost, all persons covered by the Social Security Fund will have all costs associated with treatment for COVID covered by the fund, the officer confirmed.
However, whether or not people covered by the fund must pay for COVID tests depends on whether they test positive, the officer added.
“Any persons coming for a COVID test because the government has asked them to do so in a public notice will receive a COVID test for free. This is for high risk people only,” the officer confirmed.
Any persons covered by the fund who present themselves for a test, whether or not the government has asked them to, and test positive for the virus will also receive a COVID test for free, the officer explained.
However, any person who presents themselves for a COVID test without any government office or officer asking them to do so, and who test negative for the virus, will have to pay.
“This is to prevent people from turning up and taking a COVID test every time they are worried, even if they do not have any symptoms of infection,” the officer said.
The use of COVID tests was being assigned accordingly to make best use of responding to instances and clear concerns of infections spreading, the officer added.
Of those who will be required to pay for COVID tests, Thais will be required to pay B2,300 for their COVID test, while foreigners will have to pay B3,800, the officer confirmed.
The officer said she did not know the reason for the price difference.
The issue came to the fore last week when Ministry of Labour Suchart Chomklin confirmed that free COVID-19 tests were to be provided to members of the social security scheme, covering members under Sections 33, 39 and 40 of the Social Security Act, if those people were at high risk of infection during the current outbreak.
However, the free tests were to be provided to people covered by the Social Security Act in Bangkok only, reported state news agency NNT.
Mr Suchart said the program was a joint initiative of the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Interior to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the Bangkok areas, especially among those who have just returned from a trip to their hometowns during the Songkran holidays.