Hundreds of thousands of foreigners arrive in Thailand every year for medical care. Thai medical care at any of the private hospitals is as good, or often better, than medical care in the United States. It is also less than one tenth of the cost. If you decide to come to Thailand for medical care though, what should you expect? And how much will it cost?
I recently went to a private Thai hospital in Bangkok as I was having some health problems. I went to the closest hospital to my apartment, Paolo Memorial Hospital, which is a private hospital next to the sky train in northern Bangkok.
When I walked into the reception area, I was immediately met by three people who asked me why I was there. I explained what my symptoms were, they took a photo copy of my passport for their files, and then assigned a man, named Worrawut, to take me to the doctor’s waiting room. I waited less than 15 minutes before I was shown into the doctor’s office, where I explained my symptoms.
The doctor immediately ordered an EKG and a chest x-ray. Worrawut then showed me into an examining room, and a nurse came right in and did the EKG. Then Worrawut walked me to the opposite side of the hospital for the chest x-ray. This was also done immediately.
I had to wait one hour while the results of the EKG and the chest x-rays came back. Worrawut took me to the hospital coffee shop, where I got a latte and some cake. Then he waited with me for the hour, the whole time chatting in almost perfect English.
After the hour was up, I was again shown into the doctor’s office where the doctor informed me the EKG and the chest x-ray were normal. He also wanted to test me for diabetes , liver function, adrenal function and cholesterol, but because I had already eaten that day, he told me to come back to the hospital in the morning and not to eat after midnight.
I left the doctor’s office, and Worrawut walked me to the cashier’s office to pay for my treatment that day. The EKG, the chest x-ray, the fee for the doctor and the fee for the nurse was $43.72. This was at one of the best private hospitals in Thailand. The whole experience also took less than an hour and a half.
The following day, I went back for the diabetes, liver function, adrenal function, thyroid tests and cholesterol tests. Worrawut accompanied me again to blood clinic, where I waited five minutes before my blood was drawn. I then had to wait just over an hour for the results, which again all came back normal.
This time the cost for the blood tests (a total of 11 tests) and the doctor’s visit was $118 – a fraction of the cost in the United States.
The treatment I received at Paolo Memorial Hospital was normal for a private hospital in Thailand. The level of personal attention you receive is amazing (can you imagine a US hospital assigning a person to you to stay with you all the time you’re receiving treatment?), the medical treatment is first rate, I had no long waits like in US hospitals, and the cost was less than one tenth of the US cost for the same treatment.
At Paolo Memorial Hospital, like most private hospitals in Thailand, they also offer packages for annual check-ups. The basic package is $58 and includes doctors and nurses fees, 12 blood tests for various diseases or conditions, a chest x-ray, and EKG, and teeth and oral check ups by a dentist.
If you are considering having medical treatment at a hospital in Thailand, I would recommend you do it. The cost is so inexpensive compared to the US, yet the treatment is better (no wait times, very nice staff, personal care from the physician etc.)
For the cost of a typical US treatment program, you can fly to Thailand, stay in a 5 star hotel for two weeks, get all the medical care you need, spend a few days on the beach, and still go back home with more money than if you’d paid the US medical care system. At a hospital in Thailand you can expect to get excellent treatment for a fair price. Now you can’t ask for more than that, right?
Photo – Paolo Memorial staff. Worrawut is on the left