The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is piloting a project to provide healthcare services to self-employed individuals, as part of plans to formally integrate them into the fund in the future.

Self-employed refers to anyone who earns their own income without receiving wages or a salary from a private or state employer, according to a 2019 prakas from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.

Labour minister and chairman of the NSSF board Ith Samheng addressed a February 28 meeting to review the funds results for 2022.

“Access to the NSSF has improved dramatically, but we still have some way to go,” he said.

He added that the NSSF has begun piloting the provision of healthcare services to self-employed individuals in order to determine the rate of contributions they should make, as well as the allowances they would receive.

“We are expanding the scope of NSSF coverage, but to ensure the expansion is sustainable, we need to make certain the support it provides is consistent. The pilot project has targeted a few thousand self-employed people, and should provide the figures we need to guarantee the system is self-sustaining,” he added.

Samheng said that if the pilot is successful, the NSSF will soon be able to give the same protection to informal workers or self-employed individuals that public and private sector contracted employees enjoy.

“The number of people who contribute to the fund is 2.5 million, but that figure will soon double. In the future, as many as 10 million people may enjoy the protection the NSSF provides,” he added.

Ouk Somvithya, director-general of the NSSF, said the fund currently offers three forms of social protection: occupational risk, healthcare and a pension fund. The systems are in use in the public and private sectors.

“In the private sector, a total of 2,584706 employees are protected by the NSSF. In addition, 35 state institutions have registered 257,644 civil servants for occupational risk coverage. A total of 39 healthcare institutions provide coverage for 439,243 members,” he added.

“In 2022, the NSSF provided cash payments to women workers who gave birth. A total of 22.47 billion riel ($5.54 million) was paid to 55,770 working mothers – from both the formal and informal economies – who gave birth to 56,173 children,” he concluded.